In response to the conversations surrounding the Digital Humanities, E. Leigh Bonds writes the “methodology of experimentation-of teacher and student producing knowledge rather than delivering/receiving it—necessitates a pedagogical paradigm shift” (150). The methods employed by the Digital Humanists can help shape these pedagogical shifts within the Literary Studies discipline. While we are comfortable with our interdisciplinarity, and thus our personal research methods that we use to generate our own knowledge, what the Digital Humanities promises to provide is a method that might help bridge the gap between the researcher and the teacher that the Literary scholar inherently possesses.
As someone who is still developing their professional position in the field, these shifts bring with them a lot of anxiety, and confusion. Everything I thought I understood to be Literary Studies is shifting shapes into actual shapes, and shaping. That is to say, these things that we can produce as scholars, and work we can create alongside our students opens a door to something very different than what I have grown comfortable doing.
Bonds alleviates some of that anxiety when she contends that “the means may differ from text-based assignments, the inquiry, problem solving, and collaboration remain consistent” and that this shift “create[s] the ‘authentic situation’ that research in education advocates” (152). This newly forming authenticity expands beyond the traditional pedagogy that asks students to crank out another analytical essay. While I have an undying love for the essay, and all the blood, sweat and tears I have given over to the process of shaping one, this pedagogical shift does not ask us to abandon the essay, but to re-shape the journey we take to get there. If I’m being super honest, much of my research process already involves ‘screwing around’ and accepting a ‘productive failure’ when my argument moves into a direction I wasn’t expecting. Finding new and interesting ways to incorporate those processes in the classroom functions as a demonstration of the processes we all face as writers, literary critics, students, and humans—the most important focus of the humanist in the academy.
Bonds, E. Leigh. “Listening in on the Conversations: An Overview of Digital Humanities Pedagogy.” The CEA Critic 76.2 (2014): 147-157. Print.