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UCC quad shot 1TWENTY-FOUR years after leaving Edinburgh University, this year (2014) — this month (September) — I return to student life, to read for an MA in Digital Arts and Humanities at University College Cork.

Classes start next week with Graphics and Graphic Design, Sound Engineering and Audio Processing, and Digital Video Capture and Packaging.

In syllabus-speak…

“This course produces digitally-literate, interdisciplinary graduates with strong team skills who will be able to fill a variety of roles in the “knowledge economy”. It lays the foundations needed for careers that use digital tools to address the creative needs of the arts and humanities. It provides a firm grounding in how to capture, read and write sources in standard digital forms for analytic and creative work. Core modules address the problem of capturing complex real world sources in standard digital formats like XML and SQL, analysing them and presenting the results online in publicly accessible multimedia formats. It locates these technical skills in the context of practical collaboration and teamwork, built into student centred learning and assessment which requires engagement both face to face and online, effectively using social media tools, and provides a solid theoretical framework in contemporary debates about our rich tapestry of history, heritage, culture, arts and media.”

In short, it’s about arts and humanities in the digital age.

Other modules include Introduction to Digital Arts and Humanities, History and Theory of Digital Arts, Communities of Practice in Digital Scholarship, Databases for Digital Humanities, Models, Simulations and Games, Introduction to Quantitative Methods for Digital Humanities, and Editing Skills for Research Postgraduates in the Humanities and Social Sciences. (This is not a complete list of the taught modules, it is however, I feel, as much as one can put in a paragraph without being tiresome prick.)

Following the taught part of the programme candidates write up and submit a 20,000 word dissertation (or a digital artefact representing an equivalent amount of work).

Boole Library, UCC

Boole Library, UCC

Rather than attempting to explain what Digital Arts and Humanities is about, it will, perhaps, be more helpful to look at some up-and-running Digital Arts and Humanities projects (I’m no expert, of course, these are just some things I’ve found poking around on the Interweb):

Founders Online, a project on the founding Fathers of the United States of America — correspondence and other documents of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, etc.

The Diary of Samuel Pepys, not just the diaries but almost everything one needs to know about the 17th century diarist and his world — certainly everything the general reader would need to know (within reason).

The Down Survey Project, maps and other items relating the mapping of Ireland in the 1650s by William Petty.

The Shelley-Godwin Archive, the digitized manuscripts of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft, bringing together online the widely dispersed handwritten legacy of this uniquely gifted family of writers.

Kindred Britain is a network of nearly 30,000 individuals — many of them iconic figures in British culture — connected through family relationships of blood, marriage, or affiliation: a vision of British history as a giant family affair.

Welcome to Pine Point: saving the best for last — this is the kind of thing I’m really interested in (this, as it seems to me, is the future of storytelling) — the Pine Point project is a wonderful portrait of a mining town in northern Canada which doesn’t exist any more (not even as a name on a map), but the people who once lived there live on, and this website presents some of their reflections. (Do check this out, you won’t regret following my steer on this; in the Pine Point site click ‘Next’ at each stage to keep on moving through the presentation.)