This semester, I have been working as technical consultant for Duke University Libraries on a digital humanities pedagogy experiment, which we are calling the Digital Faust Project. This Omeka website, funded by a David L. Paletz grant, is being run in collaboration with an upper-level course on the history of the Faust story from the Renaissance through the present (The Devil’s Pact: German 370; Lit 240; MedRen 345), and the Omeka exhibit will showcase texts and images from editions of Faust across that entire time period. The content is entirely student-driven: they will be uploading and describing all the items for the exhibit. I just launched the site yesterday, so there isn’t much to look at yet, but I encourage you to check it out as it takes shape.

The plan of the project as stated in the grant proposal is as follows:

This project is designed to introduce undergraduate students to the new digital workflow involved in archival research. Students will gain experience in archival work, in project design, and in management of image and text data. Students will receive an introduction to using digital tools in various stages of the research process, and will understand the standards for research quality image files. The primary sources chosen for digitization, transcription and annotation will form the basis of the students’ literary research project. The visual chronology of the Faust story being retold and re-fashioned will help students explore aspects of considering a literary theme across the ages.

The digital content will come from two primary sources: images from scanned texts on the internet or images from items in the Rubenstein Special Collections Library that the students will digitize using a KIC scanner. When its all said and done, we should have around 200-300 images telling the Faust story that will be plotted on a timeline.

A large part of this project will be just introducing the students to the technology and throwing them into the metaphorical deep end to figure it all out. Today I am running a tutorial for the students (around 20 of them) to introduce them to the Omeka Platform. I’m really happy because I found an interesting edition of the story that is not on their list nor in the Rubenstein to use as my example. I will also be giving them a brief introduction to cataloging, which is funny because the library people with library degrees think I am more qualified to talk Dublin Core, since I have been using Omeka for a while.

I’m really hoping that I also get some students who might be interested in some of the more technical side of things and willing to explore the Omeka platform a bit more deeply. Right now, quite frankly, the site looks ugly: but I assure you that is on purpose. It’s probably good to see how much work goes in to making a high quality website by seeing where these things start from.

So check the site out as it progresses through the semester, I think it is going to be fun and interesting!