Jul 21

Viral Venuses: The Potential of Digital Pedagogy in Feminist Classrooms

Representing Knowledge in the Digital Humanities (Saturday, September 24, 2011)
Conference Schedule

Hill, DaMaris. Doctoral Student, English-Creative Writing Program, University of Kansas

Title: Viral Venuses: The Potential of Digital Pedagogy in Feminist Classrooms

View presentation (Prezi)

Abstract: The legacy of Baartman’s exploitation has yet to be resolved by the reemergence of humanist values or the illusions of gender neutral digital environments. In 2008 the National Endowment for the Humanities defined digital humanities as an umbrella term used to describe the different activities surrounding technology and humanities scholarship. A digital humanities approach to this humanities based feminist studies course seemed eminent, particularly when one considers the influence of social media and digital mediums on popular culture. Teaching this course challenged me to align libratory pedagogy, feminist instructional theory, and digital technology, digi-feminist pedagogical practice.

This course aims to understand how the body –the female body in particular –has figured into philosophy, cultural studies, history, literature, and visual culture to include digital spaces. The course includes analysis of how these standards of beauty change across time and cultural groups, and the impact of these standards on women as individuals and on social and political outcomes. The connections between social media and physical appearance are easily recognized by many students. Social media outlets feature large quantities of photographs and images that influence standards of beauty on a very personal level. Additionally, digital devices are largely considered as accessories that accentuate attractiveness and act as indicators of personality in our culture. The Internet, instantly accessible via cell phone, laptop and iPad, has become the initial site of exploration and research for most students. One of the pedagogical aims of the course is to facilitate learning and generate outcomes in digital forms. In addition to class discussion and small group exploration of feminist issues, some of the digital tools used to facilitate learning include:

• Spencer Art Museum Digital Archives
• Individual online course conferences
• Blackboard
• YouTube Clips and live streams
• Final projects facilitated using webpages • Electronic database searches
• Digital music and audio files
• Modified identity boxes, Photoshop image design
• E-readers (Nook, iPad, ect.)

The assignments are in digital formats and the final project includes developing a webpage.

Therefore, the assignments are easily shared with peer groups outside of the classroom environment using Facebook, Tumbler, Twitter, MySpace, blogs, and other social media outlets. An unarticulated pedagogical experiment is being conducted as a result. Will the students share what they learned with others using social media outlets? I suspect that the 33 students that enrolled in the course will facilitate interests in feminist studies and the Venus Hottentot by sharing their assignments and webpages with an audience that extends our physical class. Will Venus studies go viral? Will their perspectives of feminist issues appear on webpages, email, tumblers, tweets, posts, and blogs that are read and visited by many Internet users around the world?

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