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COURSE NAME: "Literature and Digital Humanities: Creating the Frankenstein Project"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Alessandra Grego
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 3:00 PM 4:15 PM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: EN 110 with a grade of C or above.
OFFICE HOURS: by appointment

This course serves as an introduction to the growing field and practice of digital humanities in literature, with a focus on the transformative role of digital technologies in how we experience the stories of humankind – and, in turn, the important role of language arts in humanizing technology. It provides history and context for the emergence of a field as wide-reaching as it is vibrant, incorporating inter- and multi-disciplinary study, and ranging from the theoretically and technologically complex to easily accessible forms of narrative incorporating everyday digital interactions. Within this setting, students will contribute to and learn about what is involved in publishing their own text-based digital humanities collaboration, using open source production methods to create a class showcase project.This is a reading and writing intensive course.  Students in 300-level literature classes are required to produce 5-6,000 words of critical writing.

In this course students will experiment with various digital tools to take apart  - or hack - Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. "The digital humanities has made hacking a discipline. “Hacking” these days means to adapt, manipulate, and make productive use out of a given technology or technological context or platform" (Fyfe 3). Students will be encouraged to approach the text in new ways, through distant reading, through databases, by exploring existing digital projects, creating maps and analysing sentiments. We will experiment with text annotation and build a hypertext to help us obeserve the novel as it is woven out of multiple narrative strands drawn from other fictional texts, from poetry, from history, from science, from philosophy, from mythology. Finally we will build a map of the influence of Frankenstein on successive literature, film, figurative art, music, and beyond. The various experiments with digital tools built by the students in this class will be curated in a digital exhibition built in Omeka.

Paul Fyfe, “Digital Humanities Unplugged,” Digital Humanities Quarterly 5, no. 3 (2011), http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/5/3/000106/000106.html.


Students will learn how to use digital tools to interrogate a fictional text.

They will exit the course with

- Advanced close reading and critical skills

- in depth knowledge of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, its literary influences, context, and impact and of the critical skills required for the study of fiction.

- a theoretical understanding of the uses and challenges of a digital approach to literature and humanities

- the ability to employ digital tools for literary research (e.g. textual annotation, mapping, database construction, metadata description)

- the skills to critically assess and evaluate the results of the research performed and write a shareable report of the findings.

- the experience of curating a digital exhibition of findings produced by the class

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberCommentsFormatLocal BookstoreOnline Purchase
Frankenstein 200: The Birth, Life, and Resurrection of Mary Shelley’s MonsterBaumann, Rebecca, and Jody Mitchell. Indiana University Press, 2018978-0-253-03908-8ebook available through Frohring LibraryJSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt22p7j32. Ebook  
Frankenstein or the Modern PrometheusMary ShelleyW W Norton & Co Inc; 3rd edition 2021 978-0393644029   Almost Corner Bookshop 
Introduction to Digital Humanities : Enhancing Scholarship with the Use of TechnologyWymer, Kathryn C.Routledge, 2021.9781000396881ebook available through Frohring Library Ebook  
The Digital Humanities and Literary Studies.Eve, Martin Paul. Oxford University Press, 2022. 978–0–19–885048–9  Ebook  
Text Technologies : A History. Elaine Treharne, and Claude Willan. Stanford University Press, 2019.9781503604513. Ebook available from the Frohring Library Ebook  

1st Home PaperTraditional Research Paper on 'Frankenstein' - 2500 words 25%
2nd home paperResarch Findings report on the digital humanities project on 'Frankenstein'25%
Omeka exhibitionCuration of digital exhibition of findings.25%
Focused exercisesWeekly forums and exercises on the uses of specific tools25%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.



Students are allowed a total of four absences per term, whether they are excused or not, barring very serious emergencies. Students are asked NOT to provide justification and to take responsibility for attendance. 

More than four absences, whether excused or not, will result in a grade drop (e.g. from A to A-) per absence.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until December 15, 2023. 

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


week 1

Introduction to the Course. Define digital humanities.

Wymer, Kathryn C. "Reasons to Engage with Digital Humanities." chap. 1. Introduction to Digital Humanities : Enhancing Scholarship with the Use of Technology. Routledge, 2021. pp. 1-9.

Start reading "Frankenstein."


week 2

Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein': the text, the context, the influence.

Mary Shelley. 'Frankenstein."

Browse: http://romantic-circles.org/editions/frankenstein


week 3

Modelling the gothic novel. Distant Reading. Moretti, Franco. "Graphs, Maps, Trees." in Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History. Verso, 2007. Chap. 1.


week 4

Mapping the novel

Tools: ArcGIS and Google mymaps


week 5

The Romantic Literary context: Mary Shelley's contemporaries. Metadata description: Dublin Core



week 6

Time lines, textual structure and characters

Tools: Time Line JS. Cascade

1st home paper due


week 7

Creating a data base of images and figurative references. IIIF standards.


week 8

Archetypes, Tropes, Monsters: collecting visual representations and builing an archive



week 9

The Romantic Literary context: Mary Shelley's contemporaries.



week 10

From Xcel to CSV to Omeka. Register to Omeka



week 11

Organization of findings: what was our question? Can we answer it?

Data literacy: curation, metadata creation.



week 12

Metadata description: Dublin Core. Object creation in Omeka



week 13


Building a relational database of Frankenstein’s antecedents, influences, and epigones



week 14

Picking up all the threads.


2nd home paper: findings report.

Final exam: Omeka project completed.