HUM2DH3: Introduction to Digital Humanities

Winter 2020 | Mon. 9:30-10:20 & Wed. 9:30-11:20 | Dr. Amanda Montague

In 2020, the Sherman Centre’s postdoctoral scholar Dr. Amanda Montague led a thought-provoking, three-unit seminar on “Digital Storytelling” and introduced her students to the vibrant interdisciplinary field of Digital Humanities (DH).

A promotional poster advertising the Winter 2020 session of Introduction to Digital Humanities. The poster reads, New course available: HUM 2DH3 - Introduction to Digital Humanities - Explore digital storytelling tools - Work with archival collections - Learn digital project management - Create community-engaged narratives. Register now for Winter 2020. An image shows two students working together on a computer.
Promotional material for the launch of 2DH3

Through a variety of readings, lectures, and discussions, Dr. Montague’s class learned all about digital resources: how to create and preserve projects, navigate copyright law, ensure that work is accessible to as many people as possible, and more.

With this foundation in place, the class took what they learned and put it into practice. Students digitized material, navigated archival collections (both print and digital), conducted interviews, created storyboards, and learned to use story-telling software like ArcGIS Maps, Audacity, and Omeka-S.

An image of Dr. Amanda Montague. She is wearing a white shirt and standing in front of a beige brick wall.
Dr. Montague, the instructor of 2DH3.

No matter whether a session saw students reading foundational DH theory or flexing their skills on a new platform, Dr. Montague made the material feel fresh and inviting. In course reflections, students appreciated how Dr. Montague broke down complex topics, delivered clear, engaging lectures, and created a welcoming classroom environment. Multiple students said that even though they usually disliked participating in class discussions, they looked forward to being part of the conversations in “Introduction to Digital Humanities.”

As a dynamic term drew to a close, 2DH3 students combined everything they learned in a unique final project. The class formed collaborative groups and created interactive digital exhibits about visual arts in Dundas, Ontario, a community just down the road from McMaster.

Students appreciated how Dr. Montague broke down complex topics, delivered clear and engaging lectures, and created a welcoming classroom environment.”

This assignment up-ended the typical final essay. Instead of working alone, students worked with a community. They formed groups amongst themselves, then interviewed and partnered with Hamilton artists and archivists from the Dundas Valley School of Art and the Dundas Museum and Archives. 

An image of the Dundas Valley School of Art, located in Dundas, Ontario.
The Dundas Valley School of Art, one of the community partners in 2DH3

Instead of writing a paper that would only be read by their professor, students in 2DH3 produced a digital exhibit that could move online and resonate beyond the classroom.

Best of all, multiple students highlighted how much they enjoyed the final project. The digital exhibits let them put their new skillsets to use, think creatively, and have meaningful conversations with their collaborators.

This hands-on course gave students a treasure trove of new skills and experiences. The class learned to work in archival collections, digitize materials, manage a collaborative digital project, and engage with community members, artists, and heritage practitioners.