NewtFire logo: a mosaic rendering of a firebelly newt
newtFire {dh}
Maintained by: Elisa E. Beshero-Bondar (eeb4 at Creative Commons License Last modified: Thursday, 11-Jan-2024 16:44:32 UTC. Powered by firebellies.

Spring 2024: Classes meet M W F 11:15 - 12:05pm in Burke 153.

Schedule: Spring 2024

DIGIT 100: Lionpath class number: 6003. This course fulfills a GH general education elective and contributes toward the Digital Media, Arts, and Technology (DIGIT) major at Penn State.


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 write markup and command line code to build a website and learn how to design your own digital structures. We will explore how to design for maximum accessibility: to reach people who do not see the same way or have access to the best technology. We may be exploring serious issues like compromised data and racial disparities cultivated by supposedly color-blind technology. We will experiment with text analysis tools to study patterns of language in digital text collections, and we will try out digital mapping tools to visualize space and time in informational graphics. Finally, we will play games: we will explore and review immersive realities by independent artist-designers sharing their work on the public web. Our course in digital humanities gives you hands-on experience with building and shaping projects on the free web in an age of bots and AI.

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.


Readings, Short Assignments, and Participation (15%)

Throughout the course, we will be working on actively responding to readings using the free online annotation tool in your web browser. Annotations will be evaluated for clarity, accuracy, and and thoroughness in responding to the assignment. We will also be doing short data collection and visualization exercises using a variety of digital tools. Your completion of these small assignments counts toward this portion of the course grade.

Website Development and Critique (25%)

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 publication.

Text Analysis (20%)

This grouping of assignments involves investigating digital tools for visualizing patterns in texts, and exploring and critiquing web interfaces for reading textual variants. Each of these will be accompanied by written critiiques illustrated with labeled screen capture images to post on one of your websites.

Visualizing Space and Time (15%)

These assignments give you experience with visualizing information about places and events using story mapping software.

Secondary Worlds and Game Analysis (20%)

Explore the concept of secondary world building and its digital applications. You will be assigned to play two "indie" games under development from a collection I will provide the class, and write a comparative game review with labeled screen capture images to post on one of your websites.

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 homework for this course is time-sensitive, because it is connected to a daily learning process. Within a unit in our class, we are always working in stages on a digital project. There will often be several low-stakes short assignments to help you along the way to building something complex and it will help you to receive some guidance along the way to completion, both in class and through my comments on Canvas. Homework assignments will be posted online to our class website and linked from our Canvas site, so students who miss class are expected to consult the schedule and submit assignments on time. If you need more time on an assignment, write or talk to me about requesting an extension.

Attendance and Classroom Courtesy:

Attendance is about showing up and connecting with our class as a community. I 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 moves quickly 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. During class time, 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.

When you must be absent from class

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, it is your responsibility to make arrangements with me and your peers to catch up. We will always be connected in some way on line (via e-mail, Slack chat, and GitHub asynchronously) and we will find ways to keep you looped in.

Student (and Faculty) Health and Wellness Services

If any of us, you students or me, are feeling seriously ill this semester, please contact the Behrend Student Health & Wellness Center at 814-898-6217. Reporting in when you do not feel well is not shameful; it is responsible and important to protect yourself and our community.

Counseling Services

Many students at Penn State face personal challenges or have psychological needs that may interfere with their academic progress, social development, or emotional well being. 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: see resources posted at 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. Get started from the Behrend Personal Counseling Site: or visit the Personal Counseling Office in Reed Union Bldg. Rm 1: 814-898-6504.


LionHELP is a smartphone application, available for both iOS and Android, that you can download if you or someone you know may be facing a mental health emergency. This app provides information about the signs of a mental health crisis, how to talk to someone who may be in crisis, a guide to help refer someone to the appropriate resource, and a full list of resources available on campus. The app can be downloaded free of charge, and there is absolutely no tracking of any information. Please note that LionHELP is not a diagnostic tool and should not take the place of services provided by a licensed mental health professional.


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 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, 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. According to Penn State policy G-9: Academic Integrity, an academic integrity violation is an intentional, unintentional, or attempted violation of course or assessment policies to gain an academic advantage or to advantage or disadvantage another student academically. (Senate Policy 49-20 and G-9 Procedures (found at 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:

Students facing allegations of academic misconduct may not drop/withdraw from the affected course unless they are cleared of wrongdoing (see G-9: Academic Integrity). Attempted drops will be prevented or reversed, and students will be expected to complete course work and meet course deadlines. Students who are found responsible for academic integrity violations face academic outcomes, which can be severe, and put themselves at jeopardy for other outcomes which may include ineligibility for Dean’s List, pass/fail elections, and grade forgiveness. Students may also face consequences from their home/major program and/or The Schreyer Honors College.

Academic Integrity and Use of AI Text Generative Technology

Here is Penn State’s recommended policy on academic integrity and generative technology: If your instructor allows you to use ideas, images, or word phrases created by another person or by generative technology, such as ChatGPT, you must identify their source. You may not submit false or fabricated information or use the same academic work for credit in multiple courses. Students with questions about academic integrity should ask their instructor before submitting work.

Here is how we will approach work with AI and generative technology in this class: Sometimes we will experiment with it, and I will specifically ask you to try something with AI. When I do that, there will always be something more that I ask you to do to reflect on the output and work with or build on it in some way. I will expect you to explain and document your process: what you are doing with the AI. If your method of preparing an assignment involves chat-generative AI, include a link to the chat transcript in your assignment when you submit it.

Source Citation, Plagiarism, and Coding

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 including when you have engaged with artificial intelligence models. Failing to document your sources constitutes plagiarism and 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 generative AI, 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:

This course could pose certain issues related to physical abilities. Please talk to me if you need help navigating the course or accessing our resources. In the case of documented disabilities, students must meet with the instructor to discuss their specific accommodations. 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 Amy James (

Career Services

Career Services prepares Penn State students to enter the workforce or graduate school through a variety of services. Career professionals will assist with resume and cover letter reviews, internship and job searches, interview prep and mock interviews, career fair prep, development of career competencies, and graduate school prep. Be sure to utilize Career Services for all of your career endeavors, start planning your career early! See the Career Services website at and/or stop into their office which is located in Reed 125. You may also schedule an appointment through Starfish or call 814-898-6164.

Previous versions of this course