Several of my courses teach students how to students to apply bibliographical thinking to born-digital texts and artifacts. I don’t make my lecture notes or slides public, but I do share my syllabi (under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license) in the hope that other instructors can draw from them, and to acknowledge my debts to others who research and teach in this area. Courses relevant to the Veil of Code project are listed below; for a full list of my courses, see my personal website.
INF 2159H: Analytical and Historical Bibliography
This course examines books and other textual artifacts as material objects, focusing on methods of production and manufacture, and how they affect the transmission of texts. Students are introduced to theories and methods of bibliographical description and analysis, and to their application across a range of media. Classes cover the history of textual production, from hand-press to digital books, and its relevance to disciplines such as librarianship, digital curation, and digital humanities.
INF 2331H: The Future of the Book
This course considers the history and possible futures of books in a digital world. In this course “the book” is interpreted broadly, meaning not just an object with covers and pages, but also an evolving metaphor for conceptual frameworks for knowledge, and a metonym that brings together many different technologies, institutions, and cultural practices. The course introduces students to interdisciplinary approaches such as book history, textual studies, history of reading, and digital humanities, with an emphasis on balancing theoretical speculation with practical implementation. Readings will survey topics such as the ontology of born-digital artifacts, critical assessment of digitization projects, collaborative knowledge work, reading devices (old and new), e-book interface design, text/image/multimedia relationships, theories and practices of markup, the gendering of technologies, the politics of digital archiving, the materiality of texts, and the epistemology of digital tools. Students will also receive a practical introduction to XML markup and visualization tools.
VIC 372H5: Digital Material Culture
Do the materials of digital culture being created today have a future as cultural heritage? This course explores the materiality of digital objects, from image and music files to digital documents to video games and other software, and considers their past, present, and future status as artifacts of material culture. The course involves the primary study of digital objects themselves, but also considers the technological infrastructures, cultural contexts, and signifying systems in which they are produced, circulated, and interpreted. What does it mean to treat a video game as future cultural heritage? How is digital rights management shaping the born-digital cultural record? Who determines how digital materials are archived and curated for the future? How does understanding the materiality of digital objects affect social and power relationships in the present?
The course will also reconsider popular and scholarly ideas about digital materiality, including some key categories: analog vs digital objects; born-digital vs digitized content; critical vs mass digitization; and ephemerality vs longevity of digital materials. Readings will be drawn from a range of fields that study digital materiality, which may include media studies, information studies, digital humanities, video game studies, semiotics, sound studies, internet history, bibliography and textual studies, museology, digital curation and preservation, and copyright law and internet policy.