Spaces and Stories in the Black Public Humanities
June 2018 – University of Pennsylvania

In this course, we will discuss the projects, questions, and theories circulating in the growing community of Black Digital Humanities. These ideas include conversations around race, space, and the politics of representing collective and partial histories as data. We will focus on marginalized collections in libraries/archives and building historical knowledge with the communities where those histories live today. This is a course for people who have begun to create digital projects in Black studies, broadly considered. If you have begun to gather and organize information about an archive, collection, or history–but aren’t sure where to go next–this is the course for you.The course will pair theoretical inquiry with practical, skill-building sessions through attention to the craft of digital narratives for diverse learning communities. These sessions will intersect with a number of critical conversations. How do datasets make arguments? How can we collaborate with archivists, librarians, and information professionals to unpack power, authority, and violence in humanities data? How can these sessions draw on the rich traditions of oral and written Black storytelling? What role does the complexity of our data and instruments play in advancing these projects beyond academic spaces? What, really, are we representing in digital studies of historical and present-day Black collectives?During the skill-building sessions, we will experiment with maps, graphs, and stories. Using the Colored Conventions Project and trends in data-centric projects as examples, participants will grapple with different methods towards recovering and representing Black publics. We will become acquainted with data management and analysis through mapping and graphing tools, including Google My Maps, StoryMap, Social Explorer, and Gephi–among others that may present particular interest to course members. The course seeks to highlight the intersections of project management, digital pedagogy and public-facing community engagement. By the end of the week, participants will have a roadmap for working with data, tools, and more both in the classroom and beyond the walls of our institutions.Open to all levels of interest and background, course topics will include:

Identifying and analyzing marginalized histories through texts, metadata, maps and network graphs.
Understanding the relationship between social justice theories and DH practice
Visualizing Black publics with open-source and accessible tools.
Developing data and curricula for diverse coalitions of teaching and learning.

Pre-HILT Requirements
Gallon, Kim. “Making a Case for the Black Digital Humanities.” DH Debates. 2016 Print Edition.

Johnson, Jessica Marie and Neal, Mark Anthony. “Introduction: Wild Seed in the Machine,” special issue on “Black Code.” The Black Scholar, 2017. (We can share PDFs if needed.)

Rawson, Katie and Muñoz, Trevor. “Against Cleaning”

Sargent, Antwaun. “Celebrating the Grace of Black Women.” New York Times.

Participants are welcome and encouraged to bring their own datasets to use during the course.