The Ethical Considerations of Diverse DH Pedagogy

panel / roundtable
  1. 1. Amanda Marie Licastro

    University of Pennsylvania, United States of America

  2. 2. Ravynn K. Stringfield

    William and Mary University, United States of America

  3. 3. Amy Earhart

    Texas A&M University

  4. 4. Elizabeth Losh

    William and Mary University, United States of America

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This session on digital humanities pedagogy will offer practical pointers for scaffolding courses around DH projects with attention to the most difficult issues including:

How should technical proficiency involving hands-on sessions focused on learning to code, structuring data, or navigating and customizing platforms be balanced with acquiring theoretical knowledge?
How can anxieties about technical proficiency be addressed while simultaneously building on students’ strengths in critical literacy?
Although pedagogy is often seen as being oriented toward affirming students’ goals, how can students learn to engage in productive forms of self-reflection about what kind of DH projects might be inappropriate for them to pursue, because they are not already members of a given community or might be seen to be exploiting data from vulnerable people?
What are the ethical considerations of working with corporate and non-profit partners in the name of experiential learning that combines theory and practice?
What happens in the classroom context if DH’s orientation toward the past is reconfigured toward the future instead?

In addition to discussing the pedagogical principles in four model courses designed by the presenters – which range from undergraduate general education courses to special topics graduate seminars – this session will also provide an annotated bibliography of useful DH readings about pedagogy including works that are part of larger monographs (Risam 2019, D’Ignazio and Klein 2020, etc.), edited collections such as Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities and Critical Digital Pedagogy, and journals such as Hybrid Pedagogy and The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy.

Exploring Immigrant Narratives through Extended Reality
Speaker one will present on a first-year literature course, certified as fulfilling “Intercultural Knowledge Competency” (IKC), focused on literature written by and about those seeking citizenship in the United States. The students in the course consider poetry, short stories, novels, and cultural objects such as music videos, viral content, and news publications as well as Virtual Reality applications that raise questions about the language and imagery used to define immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. Using narrative as a means of cultivating empathy, and service learning partnerships to encourage long-term action, this course employs what Lisa Blankenship coined “rhetorical empathy” to structure research and reflection. The introduction and critique of the VR applications is intended to test the hypothesis that immersive experiences can teach empathy, a premise currently under debate in both the humanities and social sciences. In considering the criticism of scholars such as Lisa Nakamura and Liz Losh alongside the advocacy of artists such as Nony de la Pena and Gabo Aurora, the speaker will demonstrate ways of pairing XR content with traditional creative and academic texts to provoke respectful conversation, sustained service and activism within the community, and academic research projects.

Fantasy New Media Narratives
Speaker two will discuss an upper-division undergraduate course that expands the field to recognize more potential creators of digital projects and takes a future-oriented vision for Black digital humanities. It explores the concept of #BlackGirlMagic and what it has meant for Black women to create new worlds and alternate realities for Black woman- and girlhoods to exist. She will discuss how weaving together representations of Black women and girls feature in fantastic, digital and futuristic media—including literature, comics, music, film, and webseries—gave students a creative opportunity to: (1) to familiarize students with the fields of Afrofuturism, the Black Fantastic, and Black Speculative Fiction, etc. (2) to introduce students to prominent Black women artists and creators and their works, and (3) to explore how we conceptualize and construct Black woman and girlhood through the lens of Fantastic, Futuristic and Digital creative and scholarly work. In crafting a course centering Afrofuturism, The Black (and/or Dark) Fantastic, and Black Speculative Fiction through a variety of media, the speaker aimed to provide a classroom space in which students were able to articulate how Black woman and/or girlhood is constructed with the use of magic as a tool or a lens in written assignments and in a final (creative) project of their choice, developing their identities as scholars, creators and fans. The speaker will argue that offering rigorous feedback and support of individually and collaboratively constructed creative final projects was a necessary component of building a classroom safe for intellectual inquiry and to practice tenets of speculative art, which centers imaginative co-creation as an integral first step toward new futures.

Ethical strategies for integrating “hard history” digital projects into the classroom
Speaker three will present on a graduate course designed to explore Black Digital Humanities, the intersections of critical race studies, African-American literature, editing and recovery, and digital humanities. Important to our local environment, the paper will discuss how to create a specialty class that invites students to participate that are not specialists in digital humanities nor Black studies. Following the concept of “juxtaposition,” what Kelly Baker Josephs and Roopika Risam see as the intersection “of disciplines, cultures, and methods” (Introduction, The Digital Black Atlantic 2021), the course consists of traditional class discussion with regular lab days that bridge the theoretical with methodological and applied contents. Students learn about Black dh through engagement with a local Black dh project, the Millican Massacre, 1868, a digital project that is recovering a race massacre. Discussing ways that theory and practice are integrated within the course, particularly for students that do not necessarily have any digital humanities skills, the paper will provide samples of lab activities and group projects. The balance of theory and practice is embedded in class design, and the paper will address the tradeoffs in such work. Further, the project has community connections, and students learn about ways that public humanities projects ethically work with sensitive histories that continue to impact communities.

Facilitating Agency and Criticality to Support More Diverse Cohorts [8]
Speaker four will discuss pedagogy for graduate students with a focus on how digital humanities methods and theories can counter self-selection biases toward those who already identify as technically literate. This speaker will discuss how PhD candidates from American Studies, History, and Anthropology can be given more agency to develop their own DH methods and make choices about curating their own data sets. Rather than reproduce a specific lab’s practices, students can be exposed to a broader range of ways to annotate data sets, select among multiple platforms for online exhibitions or the composition of scholarly hypertexts, and choose among various tools for mapping social networks, incorporating GIS, and structuring linguistic corpora and media archives. At the same time, hands-on sessions should also be embedded in a larger context of rich discussions with DH practitioners about the ethical dilemmas and institutional challenges that come with taking responsibility for shaping what Roopika Risam has called the “digital cultural record.” Theoretical readings may be drawn from feminist, Black, postcolonial, and queer DH scholarship that show how digital humanities projects can also promote surveillance, reinscribe ideologies of white supremacy, and normalize social sorting and exclusionary logics. In other words, this pedagogical approach goes beyond simply modeling best practices for reaching new publics or formulating new research questions to include students as stakeholders in critical processes of the review of scholarship that show why some digital humanities projects might raise troubling questions about control, consent, credit, and cooperation.

If this content appears in violation of your intellectual property rights, or you see errors or omissions, please reach out to Scott B. Weingart to discuss removing or amending the materials.

Conference Info

In review

ADHO - 2022
"Responding to Asian Diversity"

Tokyo, Japan

July 25, 2022 - July 29, 2022

361 works by 945 authors indexed

Held in Tokyo and remote (hybrid) on account of COVID-19

Conference website:

Contributors: Scott B. Weingart, James Cummings

Series: ADHO (16)

Organizers: ADHO