Welcome to the DH Lab! I am Dr. Mary Isbell, and I’ve created this syllabus to communicate what we’ll learn and how we’ll learn it this semester. I’ve tried to present this information as clearly as possible. I’ve also hidden the name of a major league baseball team somewhere on this page. Students who e-mail me the name of the character before the start of the second class will have one missed informal writing assignment forgiven. The penalty for sharing the secret word with a classmate who has not carefully read the entire syllabus is…guilt.

Contact Me

I love talking to students. Please get in touch often to ask questions, share ideas you’re having about the course, or discuss something interesting you’ve read or watched.

  • E-mail:
  • Office Hours (just drop in!): Wednesdays, 7:30pm-8:30pm at this link
  • Schedule a one-on-one appointment (especially if you’re not free during office hours) by sending an e-mail

Course Description

This course offers an introduction to the possibilities for undergraduate research in the Digital Humanities. Digital Humanities research can be many different things (peruse the many definitions at, and researchers often draw on many different fields of study. The goal of this course is to introduce some of these possibilities by sharing what faculty and students here at the University of New Haven have been doing. Digital humanists share a commitment to experimentation with an ever-expanding set of digital tools to ask important questions about our world. They also use (and create) tools to present the results of their research in ways that make an impact.  

This course will introduce the projects of faculty members participating in this initiative, and students will reflect on these presentations in writing. We will rotate between presentation weeks and workshop weeks. In a presentation week, Faculty will share their areas of expertise through recorded or live presentations and activities. In a workshop week, students will experiment with the techniques and technology introduced by that faculty member during class with ample opportunity to ask questions. Each student will then select one faculty member to work with individually for the conclusion of the semester. Individual meetings with this faculty member will help the student devise a project to be pursued in future and/or develop a “DH-ified” project for another course they are enrolled in during the current semester. Weekly reflections during these individual meetings will be shared with the rest of the course. 

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Describe how digital tools can be used to pursue research questions or present findings to a specific audience  
  • Devise an independent project, drawing on examples shared in the course and additional sources recommended by faculty members  
  • Anticipate challenges that will likely be encountered in pursuit of this project 

Required Materials

All course materials will be made available through our Canvas site or here on this website.

Major Assignments & Grade Breakdown

50%Informal Writing Assignments
30%Project Proposal/Description
20%Final Reflection

A Different Approach to Grading

The goal in this course is to encounter new ideas, experiment with exciting tools, and dream big. The goal is not to master any one of these tools or produce perfectly polished work. All of the assignments in this course will therefore be graded according to how fully you engage with the task, not according to “correctness.” I will give you full credit on assignments if you have engaged fully with the task. If you have not (usually because of a misunderstanding), you will receive no credit but you will be given an opportunity to resubmit (I will explain what needs to be changed–usually I will ask you to expand a bit or provide more detail).

My Course Policies (read carefully!)

Diversity Statement

I value human diversity in all its richly complex and multi-faceted forms, whether expressed through race and ethnicity, culture, political and social views, religious and spiritual beliefs, language and geographic characteristics, gender, gender identities and sexual orientations, learning and physical abilities, age, and social or economic classes. I respect the value of every member of the class, and everyone in the class is encouraged to share his or her unique perspective as an individual, not as a representative of any category. Multicultural and intercultural awareness and competencies are key leadership skills, and I intend to present material and classroom activities that respect and celebrate diversity of thought, background, and experience.


Attendance and participation in our synchronous class meetings will enable a much richer experience in this course, but I understand the unpredictability of the moment. Astros. Students who are unable to attend our virtual class sessions synchronously can complete in-class activities (described in the course schedule) by 11:59pm on the day of class with no grade penalty.


There is no penalty for requesting an extension for any work due in this course. Send me an e-mail if you need more time. You do not need to give a reason for the request.

How We Will Use Zoom

We will gather once a week on Zoom, a platform that can be a little tricky to navigate. We will spend some time at the start of the semester developing a process that will allow us to communicate as clearly as possible. I offer here a set of strategies to get us started, but we may revise these at some point.

  • Video: There is no expectation for you to turn your video camera on for this course; you can absolutely join with audio only.
  • Audio: For the most part, I will keep everyone muted.
  • Zoom Chat Window: To ensure that all students have a clear path to sharing ideas and asking questions, I will ask all students (those with cameras on and those with cameras off) to type “I have a question/I have a comment” in the chat window or in our shared document. If I call on you, I’ll invite you to unmute so you can ask your question live.
  • Note-taking Document (a Word Online Document): You will be invited to complete class activities in this shared document.
  • To protect the privacy of you and your classmates, I will only record short bits of class sessions where I am explaining things.
  • As you annotate this syllabus with hypothesis, please share any suggestions you have on the way we should use zoom during our class meetings. For example, should we agree on particular times when everyone turns cameras on? In our second class meeting, we will come to an agreement for the semester.


  • Read the syllabus and/or assignment prompt carefully before contacting me with a question about the course. An e-mail that includes some variation on “I re-read the assignment and I still have a question” is a way of signaling to me that you respect my time (this will work with other professors as well!).
  • Include a greeting (Hello, Hi, etc.) and a closing (Thank you, Best, Sincerely, etc.) in all e-mails that you send to me (and all professors!).

Online Tools (to reference as needed)

I will be introducing a number of free online tools for reading, writing, and researching over the course of this semester. I include instructions for each of these programs below and you will see in the course schedule when you should get them set up. Please don’t hesitate to drop by office hours or e-mail if you have trouble navigating this technology. I strongly recommend that, where possible, you use your university e-mail username and password when registering for these accounts to cut down on confusion when logging in.

Word Online

Word Online documents are accessible via a link (they live in “the cloud”) and any changes made to them are available in real time. I will create a private Word Online document for you to use for the entire semester. This document will only be viewable by you and me. I will ask you to post informal writing in this document, while your formal projects will be submitted through Canvas. I will grade the work in your Word Online document on a pass/fail basis and keep a running tally of your grade in Canvas. You can use Word Online without downloading Microsoft Office for your computer, but you will need Word when creating formal assignments to be uploaded to Canvas. Instructions for getting set up with Office 365 and downloading the applications for your computer are at this link.


Zotero is the best tool around for gathering, annotating, and citing sources. I don’t require students to use Zotero, but I encourage you to try it out and use this semester as an opportunity to learn a research tool that will be useful for you in the future. If you want to use a very quick version of Zotero (better than easybib, in my opinion), visit If you want to try out the full application, check out the video below for instructions on getting started. You’ll need to register for an account here: After you have registered for an account, you will download the version of the application appropriate for your computer here:

The process will be slightly different for each of you depending on your computer and the internet browser you use most often. I am happy to help if you have trouble.


Adding notes in the margins of the texts you read (annotating) is one of the best ways to understand what you are reading and begin to formulate your own ideas in response. Many of you have probably discovered that it is hard to take notes when reading online. Hypothesis is an annotation tool we will use to annotate readings for this class. When you open an assigned reading in Canvas, you’ll notice that when you select text, you are prompted to make an annotation. Please annotate actively as you read and respond to the annotations of your classmates. If you run into any technical issues, please send an e-mail to and copy me on the message. 

Note: It is possible to use Hypothesis to annotate anything you read on the web (instructions at We’ll be using the tool from inside Canvas because it makes things simpler in a course setting, but I encourage you to try the free online version on your own (it can be very helpful for the research project in this class and those you’ll encounter in the future!). I’m happy to answer questions if you have any.

University Policies

See Student Handbook