GECD 601: Introduction to Graduate Studies

GECD 601: Introduction to Graduate Studies

James J. Donahue

Fall 2016

Course Description

In this course, students will be introduced to a variety of skills and methods necessary for completing graduate work in interdisciplinary studies in the humanities. This course is designed to prepare students to engage work that incorporates multiple discursive traditions (and, as such, disciplinary fields). Students will be introduced to multiple approaches and methods of research in the humanities, with a particular emphasis on developing interdisciplinary research projects. Additionally, students will be introduced to multiple approaches to what is commonly called the “digital humanities,” and be encouraged to work with digital tools and resources in developing their final projects. (To assist in this exploration, most class periods will include the exploration of a different online archive.)

During the semester, students will engage in the following:

  1. Read and analyze works that draw from different discursive traditions
  2. Identify and explore different epistemic moments and paradigm shifts in the humanities
  3. Explore some of the various opportunities encompassed by “the digital humanities”
  4. Complete a final project that engages multiple discursive traditions.

Course Policies

Because this course only meets once per week, and because the work done in the class cannot be adequately made up, attendance is mandatory. Absences will result in grade penalties. After three absences, students will fail the course.

Because of the small class size, participation is mandatory. In some cases, participation will come in the form of presentations to the class. However, all students are expected to contribute to the discussion, especially as this discussion will assist all students in developing their work and preparing for their success in the program. Failure to contribute to the discussion will result in grade penalties.

Students are expected to come to class fully prepared, which means the following:

  • in possession of all necessary materials
  • in possession of all written work due that day
  • having completed all of the reading to be discussed that day.

Failure to come prepared will result in grade penalties.

Students are encouraged to use any and all technologies needed for their full preparation and participation in the class. Additionally, students are encouraged to seek assistance at any and all stages of the development of their work (including, but not limited to, office hours, group work, and any available campus resources). Finally, students needing accommodations are encouraged to come speak with me and seek assistance from the appropriate campus offices.

Course Assignments

Short (15 minute) presentations throughout the semester….10% each (40% total)

Episteme identification (10 pages)……………………………….20%

Research Project………………………………………………….40% total

Abstract (1 page)……………………………………………………10%

Annotated bibliography……………………………………………..10%

Final project………………………………………………………….20%

Although they will be on different topics throughout the semester (see Course Calendar below), each presentation will involve 15 minutes of material from each student (and will be followed by a 5 minute Q&A period). These presentations are intended to foster discussion, rather than be the final word on a topic. Students will be graded on their ability to assess the materials, present on a fundamental point, encourage class discussion, and use any relevant visual materials.

Presentation 1: Students will present on selected chapters from Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, as a means of raising questions and fostering discussion.

Presentation 2: Students will present their epistemic moments to the class, in order to brainstorm directions and address concerns, as well as generate discussion.

Presentation 3: Students will read and present to the class on a recent work of interdisciplinary scholarship engaging some aspect of the American frontier.

Presentation 4: Students will present their final projects to the class.

For the Episteme Identification project, students will identify an epistemic moment, as defined by Michel Foucault (see Week 2). This moment must have a demonstrable impact on at least two different discursive traditions (to be identified by the students). Students will present on this moment and produce a 10-page paper explaining its impact on multiple discursive traditions. Students are expected to engage in any necessary research (in the relevant media) for support. Students will be graded on their ability to identify an engaging epistemic moment, work with the necessary supportive research, and convincingly explain how that moment impacted multiple discursive traditions.

 For the Research Project, students will develop – in stages – a project that engages multiple discursive traditions or disciplinary fields. Students will first compose an abstract, outlining their project and identifying the discursive traditions that will be engaged. Students will then engage in the necessary research, which will culminate in an annotated bibliography (which will include annotations for every work consulted, not just the ones used in the final project). Finally, students will compose the final project, which will be presented to the class. These projects can take a variety of forms (academic paper, digital project, etc.). Students will be graded on their ability to formulate, research, and complete the various stages of the project. If an academic paper, the assignment must include at least 18 pages of revised prose. If another project is settled on, I will work with the student to determine the scope of the project.

Course Books

Matthew K. Gold, ed., Debates in the Digital Humanities

Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Stephen Jay Gould, The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister’s Pox

Stephen Jay Gould, Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time

 

Arthur I. Miller, Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time, and the Beauty that Causes Havoc

Assorted handouts

 

Course Calendar

Week 1: Introductions

W 8/31

Course introduction

Syllabus

Interdisciplinary scholarship

Research methods via the SUNY Potsdam library

Student introductions

The Walt Whitman Archive

Unit 1: Epistemes and Paradigms

Week 2:

T 9/7

Michel Foucault (handouts)

From The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences: 71-76, 236-249, 344-367

From Gold, Debates in the Digital Humanities:

Matthew Kirschenbaum, “What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?”

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, “The Humanities, Done Digitally”

Emily Dickinson Archive

Week 3:

W 9/14

Michel Foucault (handouts)

From The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language: Chapter 6: Science and Knowledge

Open discussion of episteme assignment (using the example of sports free agency)

From Gold, Debates in the Digital Humanities

Lisa Spiro, “This Is Why We Fight: Defining the Values of the Digital Humanities”

Patrik Svensson, “Beyond the Big Tent”

Piers Plowman Electronic Archive

Week 4:

W 9/21

Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Student presentations (1) on the reading

From Gold, Debates in the Digital Humanities

Stephen Ramsay and Geoffrey Rockwell, “Developing Things: Notes toward an Epistemology of Building in the Digital Humanities”

Johanna Drucker, “Humanistic Theory and Digital Scholarship”

Prelinger Archives

Discussion of episteme assignment (students must have selected an epistemic moment)

Unit 2: Interdisciplinary Scholarship

Week 5:

W 9/28

Stephen Jay Gould, The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister’s Pox (first half)

 From Gold, Debates in the Digital Humanities

Bethany Nowviskie, “What Do Girls Dig?”

Student presentations (2) on epistemic moments

The Strong Museum of Play Archive

 

Week 6:

W 10/5

Stephen Jay Gould, The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister’s Pox (finish book)

From Gold, Debates in the Digital Humanities

George H. Williams, “Disability, Universal Design, and the Digital Humanities”

Digital State Archives-New York

 Epistemic Identification Due

Week 7:

W 10/12

Episteme Identification Due

Week 8:

W 10/19

Steven Jay Gould, Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time (first half)

From Gold, Debates in the Digital Humanities

Tara McPherson, “Why Are the Digital Humanities So White?, or, Thinking the Histories of Race and Computation”

Amy E. Earhart, “Can Information Be Unfettered?: Race and the New Digital Humanities Canon”

Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology

Week 9:

W 10/26

Steven Jay Gould, Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle: Myth and Metaphor in the Discovery of Geological Time (finish book)

From Gold, Debates in the Digital Humanities

Neil Fraistat, “The Function of Digital Humanities Centers at the Present Time”

Julia Flanders, “Time, Labor, and “Alternate Careers” in Digital Humanities Knowledge Work”

 Week 10:

W 11/2

Arthur I. Miller, Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time, and the Beauty that Causes Havoc (chapters 1-5)

From Gold, Debates in the Digital Humanities

Alexander Reid, “Graduate Education and the Ethics of the Digital Humanities”

Discussion of final projects

Week 11:

W 11/9

Arthur I. Miller, Einstein, Picasso: Space, Time, and the Beauty that Causes Havoc (finish book)

From Gold, Debates in the Digital Humanities

Cathy N. Davidson, “Humanities 2.0: Promise, Perils, Predictions”

Student presentations (3) on interdisciplinary scholarship

 Research Project Abstract Due

Unit 3: Final Projects

Week 12:

W 11/16

Individual meetings for final projects

Week 13:

W 11/23

Thanksgiving Break.  No class.

Week 14:

W 11/30

Individual meetings for final projects.

Annotated bibliography due

Week 15:

W 12/7

Student presentations (4) of final projects

Research projects due

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