In many ways, the humanities are already digital: whether you’re working on Utopia or Utopia Avenue, most of us do our research, writing, and sometimes even reading with a computer. In these situations, the computer replaces the index, the pen, and the printed book. In a sense, then, the computer has simply sped up processes with which humanists were already familiar.
But what might we gain if we begin to use the computer to do something that only it can do? How would it change our understanding of a book if we laid it out in geographical space? What would it mean to look at every frame of a film at once? What could we discover if we read everything a prolific author wrote, in just two weeks? And what would we learn if we turned the tables and decided to look at digital objects the same way we typically look at novels or films?
In this course, we will consider these questions as we explore the field of digital humanities (DH). Through readings and various projects, we will familiarize ourselves with the concepts, tools, and debates of and within DH.
Course Goals ✅
- To strengthen your testimony of the gospel
- To become familiar and conversant with various concepts and methods in the digital humanities
- To collaborate in fields that have traditionally privileged individual scholarship
- To become more skilled writers through public practice
You can download the syllabus as a PDF as it was on the first day of class. But it’s worth noting that the authoritative version of the schedule and syllabus is this website.
The required texts for the course are the following:
You are welcome to purchase the two books from the BYU Bookstore; I’ve also provided links if you prefer to buy them on Amazon. Please make sure that you buy the editions listed here, so we’ll all be on the same page—literally and metaphorically. You can purchase Florence for the platform of your choice (iOS, Android, Switch, PC, Mac,). But I recommend a phone since it’s cheapest and is, I believe, the intended platform.
There are a number of texts that are only available from Course Reserves or online. You must have a copy of these texts on the day we discuss them, whether a hard copy or a copy on a portable device.
Assignments will be worth the following points:
Mapping Project: 100
Videogame Project: 125
Film Project: 75
Vonnegut Project: 75
Final Exam: 75
Grades will be calculated within this range:
899-875 B+ 874-825 B 824-800 B- etc.
My Course Policies
The best time to get in touch with me is during my office hours. I consider this your time, and I encourage you to use it. During the Fall 2023 semester, my office hours are from 1:00-2:00 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays and from 9:30-10:45 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I’m happy to meet at other times—just ask or schedule an appointment: https://calendly.com/briancroxall. While I prefer meeting in my office, we can easily Zoom; just let me know your preference.
After office hours, the next best way to get in touch with me is by sending an email. I respond to any email I receive during the week within 24 hours. I will often respond more quickly, but it’s not something you should count on.
Remote Attendance 🎥 📞
You should not come to class if you are sick. 🤒 On those days, you can participate via Zoom—as long as you send a message at least 30 minutes before the start of class. Attending via Zoom should not be something you do because you don’t feel like coming up to campus; it’s intended for keeping all of us healthy.
Unless otherwise specified, assignments are due at the beginning of class. Late work will not be accepted, except at my discretion and with a penalty.
Late Instructor⌚️ 👀
Final Exam 🎓
Our final is scheduled on Wednesday, 20 December from 3:00-6:00 pm Mountain time. BYU policy forbids me from changing this time, and you must take it in person. 👮♂️🚫🔀 ⏰ Please add this date to your calendar now, so you don’t miss it. And be sure you haven’t booked tickets before it takes place.
This should go without saying, but let’s say it anyway: please put your phone and other devices on silent before class.
Laptops / Classroom Computers 👩💻
Our classroom is equipped with computers at every seat. We will use these tools and/or your own computers regularly. Many days we will not use the computers at all, so we can focus our attention on other things. When this is the case, please don’t be the person using one.☠️
This course relies heavily on access to computers, specific software, and the Internet. At some point during the semester, you WILL have a problem with technology. Start assignments early and save often. Always keep a backup copy of your work saved somewhere secure.
This said, I’ll be asking you to do a number of new, exciting, and complicated things. If things don’t work, that’s on me and I will not hold that against you. What’s more, I’m more than happy to answer questions during class or office hours. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign that you, like me, are learning.
Despite what you might think, professors don’t know everything. 🧑🏫🚫♾ This course and syllabus are the product of my talking with colleagues and looking at their syllabi over years. You can read about the first version of this class at https://bit.ly/IntroDH2011. A big revision took place in 2014 and owed debts to Zach Whalen, Chuck Rybak, and Stewart Varner. People who affected my take on the course in 2015 include Ryan Cordell and Miriam Posner. The first iteration of the course at BYU (Fall 2017) was informed particularly by a class taught by Mark Sample, and a different course of his was a good model for the digital culture revisions to the 2018 version. The changes I made in 2019 were influenced by discussions with Dallyn Giles, McKinsey Koch, and Ryan Williams. In 2020, I drew on the expertise of Jason Rhody and Cynthia Beck; in 2021 and 2022 on that of Hannah Johnson and Jenni Overy, respectively; and this year, that of Michael Call and Matthew Kirschenbaum. Comments from students—that’s you!!—and colleagues affect everything I do. In short, as Heraclitus might say, you can’t take this course twice.
In keeping with the principles of the BYU Honor Code, students are expected to be honest in all of their academic work. Academic honesty means, most fundamentally, that any work you present as your own must in fact be your own work and not that of another. Violations of this principle may result in a failing grade in the course and additional disciplinary action by the university. Students are also expected to adhere to the Dress and Grooming Standards. Adherence demonstrates respect for yourself and others and ensures an effective learning and working environment. It is the university’s expectation, and every instructor’s expectation in class, that each student will abide by all Honor Code standards. Please call the Honor Code Office at 801-422-2847 if you have questions about those standards.
Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct
Brigham Young University prohibits all forms of sexual harassment—including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking on the basis of sex—by its personnel and students and in all its education programs or activities. University policy requires all faculty members to promptly report incidents of sexual harassment that come to their attention in any way and encourages reports by students who experience or become aware of sexual harassment. Incidents should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator [at] byu [dot] edu or 801-422-8692 or 1085 WSC. Reports may also be submitted online at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day). BYU offers a number of resources and services for those affected by sexual harassment, including the university’s confidential Sexual Assault Survivor Advocate. Additional information about sexual harassment, the university’s Sexual Harassment Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found in the University Catalog, by visiting http://titleix.byu.edu, or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.
Brigham Young University is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere that reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. A disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Whether an impairment is substantially limiting depends on its nature and severity, its duration or expected duration, and its permanent or expected permanent or long-term impact. Examples include vision or hearing impairments, physical disabilities, chronic illnesses, emotional disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety), learning disorders, and attention disorders (e.g., ADHD). If you have a disability which impairs your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the University Accessibility Center (UAC), 2170 WSC or 801-422-2767 to request a reasonable accommodation. The UAC can also assess students for learning, attention, and emotional concerns. If you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, please contact the Equal Opportunity Office at 801-422-5895, eo_manager [at] byu [dot] edu, or visit https://hrs.byu.edu/equal-opportunity for help.
Mental health concerns and stressful life events can affect students’ academic performance and quality of life. BYU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS, 1500 WSC, 801-422-3035, caps.byu.edu) provides individual, couples, and group counseling, as well as stress management services. These services are confidential and are provided by the university at no cost for full-time students. For general information please visit https://caps.byu.edu; for more immediate concerns please visit https://help.byu.edu/.
BYU College of Humanities Statement on Inclusion
We strive to cultivate mutual respect and empathy for all people, no matter their ethnic, racial, or cultural background, or sexual orientation. Elder M. Russell Ballard said at a BYU devotional in Feb. 2020: “Through discrimination, racism, sexism, and other social ills, we will often impose false identities on others that keep them and us from progressing. This can stop when we see all people as children of God. We consider every person divine in origin, nature, and potential. Each possesses seeds of divinity. And ‘each is a beloved spirit [child] of heavenly parents.’”
The College of Humanities is attuned to the reality of an increasingly diverse Church membership. We aspire to better understand our own language and history and to use language to connect and heal rather than to divide and harm. We invite students, staff, and faculty to use their time in our college to strive toward conduct worthy of Christian discipleship, where we are “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).