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CFP for MLA 2019: What Do We Teach When We Teach DH?

A Special Session on Digital Humanities Pedagogy for MLA 2019

Over the last decade as digital humanities research has flourished, the MLA convention—as well as other venues—has witnessed increasingly vigorous discussions about teaching digital humanities. We now find ourselves in a discipline that is not so new (acknowledging, of course, that DH is as old as the computer itself) and simultaneously at a moment when we need to talk formally about teaching and learning. As such, if the unacknowledged debate that sits at the heart of discussions about digital humanities is always, “What is digital humanities?”, it’s important to acknowledge how that question is always already related to the question of how we teach digital humanities.

We are interested in proposals that tackle one or more of the following three broad subjects:

  • The academic integration of digital humanities
    • effective class sizes and the use of lab-like structures in place of / addition to “normal” course sessions
    • tensions between breadth and depth in teaching digital humanities
    • who, exactly, has the bona fides to teach digital humanities
    • how digital humanities pedagogy might differ for undergraduate and graduate students
  • Ethical ramifications of teaching digital humanities
    • the line between students’ experiential learning and student labor
    • the complicated status of so much digital humanities pedagogy being performed by graduate students, staff, and non-tenure-track faculty
    • the invisible labor of teaching in a field that is still developing
    • the privileges inherent in teaching digital humanities (e.g., which schools have the resources to afford a DHer and/or the equipment that might be necessary)
    • student labor, invisible labor, complicated status, accessibility, closed/open pedagogies & software, privilege viz DH
  • DH pedagogy across languages and literatures

Given the nature of the conversation we hope to host, this session will not focus on the following:

  • Expositions of assignments and/or syllabi
  • Institutional models for support (funding, human resources, infrastructure)


The panel will be made up of 3 papers of 10-15 minutes each, followed by a response by the organizers, and then discussion with the audience.

Drafts will be shared internally for comment and review on 1 November 2018. Final papers will be posted publicly on 1 December 2018 for comments and discussion leading up to the Convention in Chicago.

Send 250-word abstracts and CVs to Diane Jakacki ( and Brian Croxall ( by 15 March 2018.

Cross-posted at

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