SHARP in the Classroom Returns!

I see this section as a space of professional generosity, as my experience with others teaching in book history is one of incredible excitement and enthusiasm to share both practical tools and reflective thoughts with others. Our goal, as outgoing editor Rebecca Baumann stated in their welcome letter, is “to provide a space to share materials in a way that is low-effort for you but high-impact for the field.” 

Project-Based Teaching in Special Collections: Building Digital Cruikshank

In Fall 2022, students in my combined undergraduate and graduate English seminar at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County participated in a semester-long collaboration with our Special Collections Library. Head of Special Collections, Beth Saunders, and Special Collections librarian, Susan Graham, and I secured seed funding from our university to design and run an upper-level course centered on digitizing a library collection and then curating and building a digital resource.

Revamping Hobson-Jobson

The Dictionary Project Assignment is from my upper-division class “Novel in India.” One of the university’s few offerings on South Asia, the class attracts English, History, and Anthropology, and Political Science majors, and occasionally Indian-heritage students.

A framing question of the class is: “can a language – English—and a genre –the novel – that were imported to India by British colonialists be ‘indigenized’?

Access, Books, and Digital Collections

On the things I’ve learnt from a few years teaching students how to ‘read’ a digital instantiation of a book is that without some knowledge of the wider context of that digitization – the platform, database, collection, or archive – it can be difficult to understand why the way digitized books look the way they do. This worksheet enables students to begin to learn what’s involved in the digitization of books. In particular, it aims to help students explore the various legal, technological, and economic factors involved in the creation of large-scale digital collections; and also the cultural contexts of representation and access against the hype of universal knowledge. The in-class task, a paper prototype of a digital archive, works particularly well to bring home the difficult choices between sometimes contradictory factors involved in real-life digitizations.  The session is part of a second-year undergraduate module entitled ‘Literature and Digital Culture’, following on from discussions in previous weeks about the digital medium, the digital divide and information privilege, and the representation of gender, race, sexuality, and intersectionality in Wikipedia articles.