An initiative for teaching and research at the intersections of digital humanities and ethnic studies fields. To join DEFCon, simply join this group.
Course Syllabus – Beauty that lies in our own backyard: Art and Data on U.S. National Parks
Students work toward the production of digital art historical projects. The course introduces a wide range of tools for digital research, roles and duties, and practices associated with digital art historical projects that include identifying the shape of the data, creating a vocabulary index, collecting and cleaning data, analyzing data, and visualizing data. The digital tools and modes of assessing data will be explored and tested while working toward the development of a digital art historical project.
The focus of the course is U.S. national parks and landscapes that depict them produced in the Twentieth Century and earlier. Students work toward providing quantitatively grounded answers to questions like: How are diverse communities represented by or within the narratives and visualizations of national parks, and how does this affect a sense of belonging in the U.S? and What are the stories that the images of U.S. national parks tell, and how do they impact national development, labor, and tourism?
We track intersecting visual, social, and political histories of U.S. national parks through the lens of diverse disciplines that include Visual Culture, Social Science, Political Science, Literary Arts, Ethnic Studies, Geography, and cartography. As a digital humanities effort, students work toward collecting metadata to build databases that relate attributes of illustrations of the U.S. National Parks and government policies to communities living both in and around the geographical regions of the parks, as well as tracing these communities’ own engagement with these spaces.
The course signature assignment focuses on targeted national parks that include Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and The Grand Canyon where students work toward teasing out and visualizing the simultaneous history of indigenous and Anglo communities at national park sites across the United States within a digital space, based on databases built over the semester. This Digital Humanities project, here defined as research and data management in concert with digital tools, will result in interdisciplinary skills and an ability to engage and advance this approach.