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Fall 2020: Classes meet M W F 3:35 - 4:25pm over Zoom and in Kochel 77. Zoom attendance is required for all students. The classroom is optional, but even in the classroom you will be connecting to Zoom to team up with your classmates. We may need to divide into groups to rotate attendance in the physical classroom. Group assignments will be made in Canvas. For in-class meetings, we must all wear masks and maintain a safe social distance. Remember: Your mask protects me, my mask protects you.

Schedule: Fall 2020

DIGIT 100: Lionpath class number: 5806. This course fulfills a GH general education elective and contributes toward the DIGIT major.


Dr. Elisa Beshero-Bondar (Dr. B), Professor of Digital Humanities and Program Chair of DIGIT.

Introduction to Digital Humanities: Course Description

This course is designed to provide students an immersive introductory experience of digital humanities, as an area of serious investigation, reflection, and creative play. Digital activities are central to everything we do in this course. We will explore how digital tools can change how we read and mediate what we see of the world. We will consider how controversies that deeply divide our society have a bearing on the devices append to ourselves, as well as allow us to shape new experiences of community. We have never been so aware of technology and its limits in testing our experience of shcool classrooms, and yet we may become aware of ourselves as present virtually in a ways that are fascinatingly distinct from our so-called "real" lives. Our course will give us scope to explore serious issues like compromised data and racial disparities cultivated by supposedly color-blind technology. We will also explore engaging creative immersive realities by artist-designers on the public web. We will, finally, explore what a free public web might mean in our time, and what shaping powers we might have in an age of bots and ads.

Learning Objectives:

Class Resources

All resources in this class are freely available to you either as Penn State students or as consumers of digital culture. We will be using most, if not all of the following tools in this class.


Digital Readings, Online Discussions and Online Annotation Assignments (20%)

Throughout the course, we will be working on actively responding to readings using online annotation. Annotations will lead us to curate a collection of related materials and contexts we find relevant to digital humanities. annotations can themselves be searched, filtered, and processed digitally. We will use as a connection between traditional reading (with a highlighter or pen) and digital enhancement. Annotations will be evaluated for clarity, accuracy, and and thoroughness in responding to the assignment.

Website Development and Critique (20%)

You will be experimenting with developing a website in two different formats, one using GitHub, widely used by coders and developers, and the other a more conventional developing medium. This will involve developing content, based on your choice of digital humanities topics we explore in the course, as well as critique of the mode of designing a web resource. This also represents a significant introductory foray in coding and development, familiarizing yourself with digital systems of media pubilication.

Digital Visualization and Reflection Assignments (20%)

This grouping of assignments involves processing data to produce visualizations that we explore in this class. Each of these will be accompanied by written reflection of the strengths and limits of the visualization.

Game Analysis (20%)

You will play an "indie" game based on a selection I will provide the class from, and write a detailed critique

Midterm Take-Home Exam (10%) and Final Take-Home Exam (10%)

Exams will involve review of key terms and concepts in digital humanities that we encounter throughout the course, as well as reflective synthesis of the course experiences and material.

Grading Scale:

Grades for the course are calcuated and posted on Canvas, and follow this standard scale: A: 93-100%, A-: 90-92%, B+: 87-89%, B: 83-86%, B-: 80-82%, C+: 77-79%, C: 70-76%, D: 60-69%, F: 59% and below. In taking the course on a S / NC (pass-fail) basis, students must earn a C to receive Satisfactory credit.

Course Policies:

Each day we are covering material that builds on earlier material and assignments, so your success depends upon regular attendance and completing each assignment on time.

Due dates and why we need them:

Your daily homework for this course is time-sensitive! Coding assignments, response papers, and other homework exercises must be uploaded to Canvas (or GitHub or our web server as specified), by the due date and time indicated on the class schedule. Homework assignments will be posted online to our class website and linked from our schedule, so students who miss class are nevertheless expected to consult the schedule and submit assignments on time. Because we post and share answers to homework exercises after submission deadlines, we will usually not accept late homework submissions.

Exam Policy:

The exams will be take-home, to do on your own time, with submissions due in Canvas

Attendance and Classroom Courtesy:

I am not calculating your attendance, but I will expect your active presence and interaction with me and your classmates this semester, as we need to rely on each other to learn and develop projects.

Our class is fast paced and requires that we all be making the best use we can of our in-person class sessions. Arriving late and leaving early (physically or remotely!) disrupts the important collective mental activity of class. So does in-class texting and checking your cell phone. Whether you are joining over Zoom or in the physical classroom, I ask that you put mobile devices in Do Not Disturb mode. While class is in progress, talking disruptively, leaving the classroom, texting or using a cell phone or computer, reading a newspaper, or other distracting behavior will be actively discouraged.

Covid and Attendance

When present on campus together this semester, whether in the classroom or elsewhere, always wear a mask and wear it appropriately (over your mouth and nose). We are being provided with some personal protective equipment (PPE) in the form of plastic face shields to be worn in addition to masks if we need to look at each other's computer screens. It is a good idea to bring hand sanitizer with you to campus and sponge off your work area in class. I will ask you to put on your mask if I see you without one, or to fix your mask if you are not wearing it correctly. Non-compliance by any of us means we have to leave the classroom immediately for our own safety, and I have to report anyone not masking or distancing as a violation of the Student Code of Conduct. Remember, My mask protects you; your mask protects me.

Please do not attend our physical class if you are not feeling healthy! This is not the semester to suffer through a fever or chills heroically to attend class in person. Stay home, report symptoms, get tested. This applies to me as your professor as well as to you!

If you need to miss classes for health reasons, make arrangements with me and your peers to catch up. We will always be meeting on line (via chat and GitHub asynchronously and via Zoom for class meetings) and we will find ways to keep you looped in.

Our Covid Mixed Mode: I am planning for the class to be meeting in mixed ways, with some of you attending in Zoom and some of you in the classroom. I hope we can maintain class meetings so we see each other in person once per week before Thanksgiving, but we are ready to be fully remote when needed. I am preparing much course material to be recorded and watched and read on your own time. In-class meetings are paired with synchronized Zoom sessions so you all, wherever you are, can talk to me live. Think of the in-class sessions as live conversations where we share screens and discuss homework, tests, and projects.

Finally, if I feel as if we are risking our health with in-class meetings, I will simply move us all to Zoom to protect our group. Our health comes first!

Student (and Faculty) Health and Wellness Services

If any of us, you students or me, are feeling sick, with COVID or flu-like, or other serious ailments this semester, please contact Behrend Student Health & Wellness Services at 814-898-6217. None of us can be sure what will happen with the COVID pandemic, and we are taking on a great risk this semester. Reporting in when you do not feel well is not shameful; it is responsible and important to protect yourself and our community.

Also, this semester may be more stressful than usual with so much uncertainty! Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional wellbeing. Seek help! The university offers a variety of confidential services to help you through difficult times, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, consultations, online chats, and mental health screenings. These services are provided by staff who welcome all students and embrace a philosophy respectful of clients’ cultural and religious backgrounds, and sensitive to differences in race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation. Counseling and Psychological services are available through the Personal Counseling Office in Reed Union Bldg. Rm 1: 814-898-6504.


Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage (


Each student is issued a University email address ( upon admission. This email address may be used by the University for official communication with students. Students are expected to read email sent to this account on a regular basis. Failure to read and react to University communications in a timely manner does not absolve the student from knowing and complying with the content of the communications. The University provides an email forwarding service that allows students to read their email via other service providers (e.g., Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo). Students who choose to forward their email from their address to another address do so at their own risk. If email is lost as a result of forwarding, it does not absolve the student from responding to official communications sent to their University email address. To forward email sent to your University account, go to, log into your account, click on Edit Forwarding Addresses, and follow the instructions on the page. Be sure to log out of your account when you have finished.

Academic Integrity

Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, puts a very high value on academic integrity, and violations are not tolerated. Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly activity in an open, honest and responsible manner. Academic integrity is a basic guiding principle for all academic activity at The Pennsylvania State University, and all members of the University community are expected to act in accordance with this principle. Consistent with this expectation, the University’s Code of Conduct states that all students should act with personal integrity; respect other students’ dignity, rights and property; and help create and maintain an environment in which all can succeed through the fruits of their efforts. Academic integrity includes a commitment by all members of the University community not to engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation or deception. Such acts of dishonesty violate the fundamental ethical principles of the University community and compromise the worth of work completed by others.” (Senate Policy 49-20 and G-9 Procedures. Any violation of academic integrity will receive academic and possibly disciplinary sanctions, including the possible awarding of an XF grade which is recorded on the transcript and states that failure of the course was due to an act of academic dishonesty. All acts of academic dishonesty are recorded so repeat offenders can be sanctioned accordingly. More information on academic integrity can be found at:

Source Citation and Plagiarism: One goal of our course is to reflect on how best to cite sources in digital contexts. We will consider how and why such citations differ from documenting printed texts. We will also consider the ease and frequency with which digital texts and graphics are plagiarized on the worldwide web, and discuss how the omission of source citations detracts from the authority of a digital information resource. We expect you to practice mindful source citation, and plagiarism on your part will have very serious consequences.

Representing the voice of another individual as your own voice constitutes plagiarism, however generous that person may be in “helping” you with an assignment. Turning in an assignment generated collectively under the name of a single individual is considered plagiarism. When instructed to collaborate on a project, project collaborators share collective authorship and should identify themselves directly as a team. To avoid plagiarism, cite your sources whenever you quote, paraphrase, or summarize material, or use digital images from any outside source (including websites, articles, books, course readings, Courseweb or GitHub postings, or someone else’s notes). When using the “copy” and “paste” features as you read and research, be sure that you are carefully marking that these passages are unprocessed from their source, so that you know to process it later. Forgetting to do so not only produces sloppy work but (whether you intended it or not) results in a false representation. As long as you make a good faith and clear effort to cite your sources, you will not be faulted for plagiarism, but your work will be penalized if citations are inaccurate, unclear, or lack important information.

That said, the coding and digital development we do encourages collaboration, and for that reason we adopt our colleague David Birnbaum's Collaboration policy, since his course is very similar to ours. This policy specifies that students identify collaborators in a comment on submitted asignments and take care on projects that all students contribute equally (and no student is contributing excessively more than what everyone else has done). When joining a group homework session, always work on the assignment by yourself first so you can be an equal participant, and write up the assignment by yourself, after the session is over so you take care not to copy from the other students. While we want you to consult with each other, you are responsible for doing all your writing and coding by yourself, using your own words.

Disability Services:

Penn State welcomes students with disabilities into the University’s educational programs. Every Penn State campus has an office for students with disabilities. Student Disability Resources (SDR) website provides contact information for every Penn State campus ( For further information, please visit Student Disability Resources website ( In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, you must contact the appropriate disability services office at the campus where you are officially enrolled, participate in an intake interview, and provide documentation: See documentation guidelines ( If the documentation supports your request for reasonable accommodations, your campus disability services office will provide you with an accommodation letter. Please share this letter with your instructors and discuss the accommodations with them as early as possible. You must follow this process for every semester that you request accommodations. Penn State Behrend’s Disability Services Coordinator is Stacey Walbridge (


We gratefully acknowledge David Birnbaum’s Digital Humanities course at the University of Pittsburgh as our starting point and supporting resource for much of our development. Other inspirational resources include: