English 3901a: History of the English Language (Spring 2021)

About this course

Why don’t we spell knight nite?

Where does ‘silent e’ come from?

Why is it book and books but not sheep and sheeps?

Do we say somebody is six foot or six feet tall?

All of us have asked questions like these about the English language. This course will teach you how to find the answers. Read the rest of this entry »

English 3450a: Old English (Fall 2015)

Note: This is a draft syllabus and is subject to revision before the last day of the add/drop period.

A “Thought Piece” on Digital Space as Simulation and the Loss of the Original

A “Thought-Piece” on Digital Space as Simulation and the Loss of the Original: Final Paper for Dr. O’Donnell’s English 4400: Digital Humanities, Fall 2014

          In beginning to think about how I could integrate theory into my final project, I recalled Kim Brown, the DH Maker-Bus, and how she spoke about how her workshops with children have prompted kids to ask “big questions”. It occurred to me that the way in which humanists approach their own work is often very dependent on the ways humanity and culture are defined. It also occurred to me that now, more than ever, humanity and technology are converging. In this paper I want to explore the ways technology and the digital are seen as “copies” of an “original”. Drawing on theories post-humanism and post-modernism I will discuss technology and the internet as simulation. This paper will examine technophobia in the humanities and look to Jean Baudrillard’s theories of simulacra, si Read the rest of this entry »

Late policy

Assignments are due at the date and time specified on the syllabus or discussed in class (Not attending class is not an excuse for failing to keep up to date on due dates). Unless I specifically note otherwise, however, you can almost always take a few extra hours without asking permission.

If you need a long extension than this, you should ask. As long as I haven’t started marking the exercise, I am usually fine with granting extensions. I am less able to accommodate extensions after I have begun marking the assignment.

If you are sick, have a family emergency, or face some other crisis, I am almost always willing to grant an extension. While I prefer to know in advance, I can accept retroactive requests when the nature of the emergency requires it. I do not normally need a doctor’s note or other evidence, though I reserve the right to ask. Read the rest of this entry »

Spreadsheet formulas for converting letter grades to percentages and percentages to letter grades

Below are links to spreadsheets containing my standard formulas for converting from letters grades to percentages and vice versa.

I use the first formula (letter grades to percentages) when I am marking work qualitatively (e.g. essays, translations, and other things that are not easily scored numerically), but need a number to use in calculating the final grade; I use the second formula (percent to letter grade) when I am calculating the final grade for submission to the University (the University recrds only letter grades). With some tweaking, you could use this second formula to convert to grade points or to other systems (e.g. First/Second class, and so on).

There are two versions of each formula: a dynamic and a static version. The static version is simply the formula I use in my spreadsheets and it is based on the letter:percentage equivalences defined elsewhere on my website. The dynamic version is built within the spreadsheet using numbers supplied by the user. This has the advantage of being adaptable, but it has the disadvantage of requiring you to copy more cells into your own spread sheet if you want to use it (because it depends on internal references, you need to copy both the formula and the table of equivalences in the stylesheet). In both cases, there are instructions (hopefully clear) on how to use the formulas in your own grade spreadsheets.

Here is the text of the static formula (it assumes its data is coming from cell A32 in the first case and A35 in the second. The easiest way of adapting it to your own uses is to paste the formulas into cells B32 or B35. After you have done that they should autoatically change depending on where you place them in the spreadsheet):



Open/Libre office version: http://ubuntuone.com/1iBn3HjozhiNpzEV4W7siQ

Excel Version (converted by Open Office): http://ubuntuone.com/0qcsHBnCKcHD5wrkT5bSTw

tags: , , ,

The meteor has struck. The dust is in the air. Let’s leave the dinosaurs to their fate and concentrate on the mammals: Notes on the New Humanities.

The abstract for my talk tomorrow at Digging the Digital 2013 in at the University of Alberta in Edmonton tomorrow.

bqq. The digital humanities are not some flashy new theory that might go out of fashion. At this point, the digital humanities are The Thing.  There’s no Next about it. And it won’t be long until the digital humanities are, quite simply, “the humanities” (Pannapacker 2011).

It is a truism to note that the definition and scope of the Digital Humanities has been the object of considerable discussion in recent years. Who’s in? Who’s out? Do you have to code? Must you read from a distance? Is DH under theorised? Overly popular with funders? A threat or an opportunity to renew the “old” humanities?

In my view, this focus on DH as a (sub-)discipline of the larger Humanities is unfortunate. Because while I have gradually come to believe that there is such a thing as the Digital Humanities (in the same way that there are other (sub-)disciplinary specialisations like Post-Colonial Theory or Medieval Studies), I have also come to believe that our focus on defining what makes it different is preventing us from paying attention to what is really important about the widespread introduction of computation into humanistic study over the last few years: the extent to which technology is changing the way we do everything else.

In this paper, I would like to look at how digital technologies are fundamentally changing the way Humanists—of all persuasions and sub-disciplines—are conducting their day-to-day business. How they are changing the way we teach, the way we communicate, interact with colleagues and the public, and judge our relative success. In many cases, these changes are so new that our discipline as a whole has, by-and-large, yet to grasp fully the extent to which they have already occurred. In other cases, our ability to benefit from changes that have been recognised is hindered by generational resistance, institutional inertia, and a tendency to see anything digital as belonging to the DH “fad.”

This is a problem we must address. An Open Access, Open Source, social web is an internet that presents Humanists of all stripes with remarkable opportunities: to engage with far larger audiences, to work with a far wider variety of cultural and historical material, and to develop forms of communication and publication that are far better suited to the type of research and teaching we have always done. Our unwillingness to embrace more fully the opportunities before us and develop the skills and knowledge necessary to lead in their development is a terrible missed opportunity.

As my title suggests, I also believe it is a generational problem: the technology that offers us the greatest opportunities has developed far faster than we have been able to integrate it into our disciplinary training. Few Associate Professors have PhDs that are newer than the popular recognition of the most significant Web 2.0 applications; many of our senior faculty began graduate school before the development of the World Wide Web. The only way forward, I argue, is for the dinosaurs to recognise that their days are numbered and to develop a new training model that prepares our students for the mammalian world they are going to inherit.


How to add a twitter feed to Moodle

Like many Digital Humanists, I use twitter a lot: for communicating with colleagues, the general public, and my students. Like most users of twitter (certainly most academics, I suspect), my most common type of tweet is probably one in which I share a resource I have come across—a book, article, website, project, etc. Since I use our university’s Moodle installation to store resources for my students, it would be quite useful to be able to capture a Twitter feed inside our Moodle class space. This post shows how to do it.

tags: , , ,

Class notes

Instructions for the note taking assignment in my classes.


English 4400n (Digital Humanities, Fall 2012): Assessment

Information about the assessment in this course.


English 1900j (Fall 2012): Blogs

In this course you are expected to maintain a blog. Postings will be required from you most weeks. And every so often you are asked to review and/or comment on your blog postings and those of your class mates.

tags: , , , , ,

English 4400n: Digital Humanities (Fall 2012)

English 4400n: Digital Humanities is a senior seminar on the digital revolution and the effect it is having on the way we communicate, research, and teach. Most of the course will be concerned with the mechanisms and effects of what we might describe as the second Internet revolution—the growth of cloud-based, often socially-network-oriented, services, applications, and repositories that are radically changing economic, social, and research culture and practices.

By the end of the course, students should have

  • A grounded historical knowledge of the history of personal and networked computing as it applies to the humanities.
  • Hands on experience with basic technological practices in the field
  • Extensive experience reviewing existing Digital Humanities projects
  • An understanding of what the Digital Humanities is and where it may and may not be helpful in the pursuit of their other research interests.


Draft Once per Week Class Schedule in Textile Markup

|-(week#wk1). *1*| *Thur. 6/9*|   |
|/2-(week#wk2). *2*|-(announcement). *Tue. 11/9*| (announcement). *Last day to add/drop* |
|*Thur. 13/9*|   |
|-(week#wk3). *3*| *Thur. 20/9*|   |
|-(week#wk4). *4*| *Thur. 27/9*|   |
|-(week#wk5). *5*| *Thur. 4/10*|   |
|-(week#wk6). *6*| *Thur. 11/10*|   |
|-(week#wk7). *7*| *Thur. 8/10*|   |
|-(week#wk8). *8*| *Thur. 25/10*|   |
|-(week#wk9). *9*| *Thur. 1/11*|   |
|-(week#wk10). *10*| *Thur. 8/11*|   |
|-(week#wk11). *11*| *Thur. 15/11*|  |
|-(week#wk12). *12*| *Thur. 22/11*|   |
|-(week#wk13). *13*| *Thur. 29/11*|   |
|/2-(test#exam). *Exam*|(test). *Sunday 13/12* |(test). *Essay 3 Due on Turnitin* (Midnight) |
|(test). *Mon. 10/12-Tue. 18/12*|(test). *Final Exam (Moodle)* |


Draft Tuesday-Thursday Fall Semester Class Schedule in Textile Markup

|/2-(week#wk1). *1*|(holiday). *Tue. 4/9*|(holiday). *No class*|
| *Thur. 6/9*|   |
|/3-(week#wk2). *2*|/2-. *Tue. 11/9*|   |
|(announcement). *Last day to add/drop* |
|*Thur. 13/9*|   |
|/2-(week#wk3). *3*| *Tue. 18/9*|   |
|*Thur. 20/9*|   |
|/2-(test#wk4). *4*| *Tue. 25/9*|   |
|*Thur. 27/9*|   |
|/2-(test#wk5). *5*| *Tue. 2/10*|   |
|*Thur. 4/10*|   |
|/2-(week#wk6). *6*| *Tue. 9/10*|   |
|*Thur. 11/10*|   |
|/2-(week#wk7). *7*|*Tue. 16/10*|   |
|*Thur. 8/10*|   |
|/2-(week#wk8). *8*| *Tue. 23/10*|   |
|*Thur. 25/10*|   |
|/2-(week#wk9). *9*| *Tue. 30/10*|   |
|*Thur. 1/11*|   |
|/2-(week#wk10). *10*| *Tue. 6/11*|   |
|*Thur. 8/11*|   |
|/2-(week#wk11). *11*| *Tue. 13/11* |   |
|*Thur. 15/11*|  |
|/2-(week#wk12). *12*| *Tue. 20/11*|   |
|*Thur. 22/11*|   |
|/2-(week#wk13). *13*| *Tue. 27/11*|   |
|*Thur. 29/11*|   |
|/2-(week#wk13). *14*| *Tue. 4/12*|   |
|*Thur. 6/12*|   |
|/2-(test#exam). *Exam*|(test). *Sunday 13/12* |(test). *Essay 3 Due on Turnitin* (Midnight) |
|(test). *Mon. 10/12-Tue. 18/12*|(test). *Final Exam (Moodle)* |


Going LoC(o) with Zotero: Scratching the inner librarian

Photo of my home office in 2005 (used for my Pseudo Society talk at Kalamazoo, “Using Computers to Improve Efficiency in Research and Teaching”)

I have always been a very messy person, especially in my work area. Here for example, is a not unrepresentative photo of my home office in 2005 (since one normally doesn’t take pictures of messy rooms, this is the only one I have: I took it to use as a slide in my 2005 Pseudo Society talk at the Kalamazoo Congress on Medieval Studies, “Using computers to improve efficiency in research and teaching”).

Perhaps oddly, however, this same messiness has never extended to my bibliography. Ever since I began university as an undergraduate in 1985, I have kept very careful bibliographic records. Read the rest of this entry »

How to “clone” a test in Moodle 2.0

Here’s how to clone a test in Moodle 2.0 (i.e. make an exact copy so that both appear in the course; this is useful for making practice tests or copying a basic test format so that it can be reused later in the course)


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: