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Guest Post: Creating a Digital Archive

06.19.2014

This summer the HPU Tech Blog will be featuring blog posts from professors at High Point University who are actively using technology tools in the classroom.  This is the sixth in the series, written by Laura Linker.  Laura Linker is an Assistant Professor of English.  Here is her post:

In Spring 2014, my Enlightenment British Literature class created individual digital archives of eighteenth-century artifacts they “collected” from selected readings over the semester. Inspired by major digital humanities projects, such as the William Blake Archive, I wanted to bring the kind of work that scholars working as digital humanists undertake to the HPU classroom. I’ve long used digital archives as primary and secondary source texts with students. This time, however, I wanted students to create their own archive, think through the process, and publish their work on the web as undergraduate digital humanists.

The assignment asks them to research a theme, writer, or work of their choice related to the Enlightenment. The project progressed in two stages. Each week, students selected an artifact from a weekly reading, then researched it in Oxford English Dictionary to discover its linguistic history. They “pinned” the object to Pinterest, creating digital boards to showcase to their peers in short, frequent presentations we discussed alongside the works. By mid-semester, students had accumulated enough pinned artifacts to begin thinking about building a digital archive through platforms like WordPress.

Featured Student Pinboard and Digital Archive: Sarah Patterson

With Sarah’s permission, I am sharing her Pinterest board and archive, entitled “The Greeks, the Romans, and the Enlightenment: The Symbols of the Past that led to 18th-century Ideals.” Sarah’s archive focuses on several key neoclassical moments in the philosophies and literary traditions shaping texts we read by Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, Phillis Wheatley, and George Berkeley, among others. Her archive combines images with text, and she researched these objects using the library databases and the course guide provided by the HPU librarians.

Image taken from Wikipedia Commons; Title: The British Museum, Room 1 – The King’s Library; Author: Mujtaba Chohan E-mail: m.chohan@gmail.com Source: British Museum Visit.  

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