W.I.T. and Public Digital Humanities

Unlike many other humanities classes, the work that Chris Gleason and Jody Gordon’s students are doing in their Media, Communications, and Culture course, Digital Approaches to Boston Culture: Curating the Legacy of James M. Curley, will not just be seen and evaluated by their professors.  Rather, Gleason and Gordon’s goal is that work students produce in their Curley Project will, as Gleason put it, “eventually be fit for public consumption.”


It was with this end in mind that Gordon and Gleason selected the Curley House as the focus of their class.  To this day, the Curley House, owned by the city of Boston, remains empty, but has great potential to be a site of significant cultural and historical value to its community. Accordingly, part of the goal of the class is for the work that students produce to be of value to the public.


This allows us, Gleason explained, to do “some serious scholarship with undergraduates.”  But the form it took was somewhat untraditional: instead of a paper, students presented the results of their research in Omeka.  “If we taught the same content and had them write traditional papers and so forth,” Gleason notes,  “I don’t think we would be getting the same results.”  Instead, Gleason and Gordon encouraged their students to understand that they would “be going up before City Hall, and this data from Omeka [was] going to be publicly available for people.”  And this made a big difference to the students, Gleason added.  “They have to think about it differently, and I think that’s really important.  I think they take it more seriously.”