Andrew Keener

I’m Andrew Keener, a Ph.D. candidate in English specializing in early modern drama. My interest in digital humanities emerges from my interests and work in bibliography and the history of the book. It’s my belief that book history and digital humanities can be combined together effectively in the classroom not only to introduce students to topics in literary history, but to bring them into the circle of creating new knowledge. Beginning in 2014 I began a rare book cataloging project at Northwestern spanning book history and digital humanities and involving faculty, graduate students, librarians, and undergraduates. “Renaissance Books, Midwestern Libraries” was the name. First, I taught and closely supervised five undergraduates in reporting Northwestern’s pre-1700 Special Collections materials to the British Library’s online universal catalog for researchers. This involved facility with the catalog software and with bibliographical terminology and skills. The work also resulted in exhibits and symposia and will continue this year at Garrett Evangelical Seminary (which, to my great surprise, has a large collection of pre-1700 books). That’s a lot in the way of detail perhaps, but it captures my work to date as both a teacher and mentor and a researcher interested in involving undergraduates in project-based digital humanities work. These students were exceptional in many ways, however, and in this course I’ll be looking for ways to broaden these kinds of approaches for a classroom. One idea I have, for instance, is a “mini-digitization project” in which each student analyzes, describes, and photographs a historical artifact (could be a book. but doesn’t have to be). Then, they curate it, set it online in a web museum space for the class. Thinking small, with attention to details, this kind of project would have practical applications for a local collections as well as being a valuable exercise for undergraduates.