2017 Course Development Grant Recipients

The following faculty members are the recipients for the final round of $6000 Digital Humanities Course Development Grants:

Paul Faulstich, Pitzer College:  NatureWorks:  Aesthetics and Praxis in the Anthropocene

This course explores the ecology of expressive culture and how art mediates between humans and the more-than-human environment. We combine the social sciences and humanities with ecology to break down normative barriers between the scientific and the poetic.  We explore how science, art, and philosophy can be effectively integrated for activist and educational effect. This course engages students in intellectual inquiry and creative practice, without acquiescing to a division between the two. It integrates studio work with scholarly analysis. Since the humanities employ skills that can uniquely address strategies of reform and conservation, they play a powerful role, serving as the conscience of culture and offering creative solutions.


Phyllis Jackson, Pomona College:  Black Aesthetics and the Politics of (Re)Presentation

Using a constructionist approach to representation, the course encourages students to historically situate and question the theoretical, ideological, spiritual, and aesthetic assumptions of artists, collectors, art critics, and art historians.   We explore the ways in which the interlocking constructs of race/class/gender/sexuality/religion/citizenship influence representational practices, the training and education of artists, public and private patronage, cultural criticism, and the histories of art. This course provides a social-historical frame for the interpretation of art form and content, resulting in students’ production of original theoretically sound, socially aware cultural criticism.  We examine changes in modes of expression, formal techniques, pictorial themes, visual codes as well as the impact of movements such Modernism, Black Aesthetics, African Aesthetics, Afrocentrism, Critical Race Theory, Black Feminism, and Postmodernism.


Tanja Srebotnjak, Harvey Mudd College:  Forthcoming New Course

The course aims to bridge several humanities and STEM disciplines by linking statistical analysis, petroleum engineering, political science, history and community, and social justice questions.  In this studio course, students will examine the role of environmental (in)justice in the joint evolution of Los Angeles’ demographics and its century-old oil and gas exploration and production.  The course will map and statistically analyze the timeline of the socio-demographic and socio-economic evolution of communities in proximity to oil and gas production from 1900 to present to answer these questions:  So is oil and gas production an environmental justice problem in Los Angeles? How did people settle and move in parallel to Los Angeles’ oil boom of the 1920s and until today?


Erich Steinman, Pitzer College:  “Unsettling Settlers and Making Space: Pitzer College and Indian Nations of Southern California”

The course seeks to operate on a variety of levels, from intellectual to personal; it is designed to link theory and history to contemporary social relations; and it aims to connect analyses of injustice with praxis that works to undermine colonial dynamics. This is a writing-intensive course that will include a personal essay reflecting on students’ community engagement, an analytical (argument) essay regarding inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in higher education, and a research project focusing on linking students to entwined histories of Indigenous presence and colonial settlement. Engagement will draw on existing Pitzer projects or collaborations promoting Indigenous access to higher education and supporting land-based cultural practices. The creation of a holistic learning community among students in the class will support the learning, processing, and integrating of course information and experiences.


Tamara Venit-Shelton, Claremont McKenna College:  Human Health and Disease in American History

This course is designed to give students hands-on experience with historical practices, reading and analyzing primary sources against theoretical works and secondary scholarship as we explore the intersecting histories of medicine, public health, and environmental health in the United States from the colonial period to the present.  We pay particular attention to the way that social difference (race, gender, and class) has contributed to health inequities and access to care. Topics include: Indian dispossession and epidemic disease, the professionalization of American medicine, immigration and public health, eugenics, abortion, and birth control, disease eradication and diplomacy, race and medical testing, and the AIDS crisis.


Weiqing Gu, Harvey Mudd College:  Forthcoming New Course

This course focuses on developing students’ ability to analyze big data, as well as their data-to-decision skills, which will provide a foundation for future studies and potential career paths. We will explore the key determinants of currency crises to facilitate the application of data analytics to study real world issues. Previous scholars have conducted extensive studies regarding the impact of macroeconomic factors on the occurrence of currency crises; therefore, our course will not only build on the foundation established in the literature, but it will also expand our analysis to non-economic factors, such as politics and culture. We aim to build connections across the disciplines of social science, humanities, and computer science.


Gabriela Bacsan, Scripps College:  Trans-Caribbean Formations: Translating Identity, Race, and Gender in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico

The course aims to explore questions of identity formations during different historical time periods in the Caribbean. Our main goal will be to explore how the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality are translated into Caribbean identity formation. We will pay close attention to how conceptualizations of blackness are deployed—simultaneously highlighted and erased—during different iterations of nation-building projects in each country. We will also explore the place of indigenous peoples in Caribbean national imaginaries.


Isabel Balseiro, Harvey Mudd College:  Forthcoming New Course

This course will introduce students to an interdisciplinary approach to the digital humanities through an examination of the anthropological and literary work of the first African American woman to graduate from Barnard College: Zora Neale Hurston. Born poor in the South, highly educated in the North, a luminary amongst the talents of the Harlem Renaissance, and buried in an unmarked grave in her native Florida, Hurston’s writing and life offer a unique view onto notions of race, gender, and class in the aftermath of Reconstruction that reverberate to this day.


Todd Honma, Pitzer College:  Science, Technology, Asian America

This course examines the construction of Modern Western Science through the lens of race, class, gender, colonialism/empire, and globalization, with a particular focus on its effects on Asian diasporic communities in the United States. The course investigates how the construction and institutionalization of Modern Western Science has privileged certain groups while marginalizing others. We examine how marginalized groups have struggled against hegemonic forces of domination to challenge systemic forms of inequality and oppression in the fight to establish a more socially responsible and democratic engagement with science and technology. We also analyze different approaches and strategies in various social justice movements of science that will help to inform our work in the community.

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DH@CC has been made possible through a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.