Master of Arts Interdisciplinary Studies (MAIS) 623

Introduction to Trends in New Media: Digital Humanities (Revision 1)

MAIS 623 Course Cover
**Note: Students in Group Study courses are advised that this syllabus may vary in key details in each instance of the course. Always refer to the Moodle site for the most up-to-date details on texts, assignment structure, and grading.**


MAIS 623: Introduction to Trends in New Media: Digital Humanities explores theoretical approaches to the important social transformations taking place in connection with digital technologies. Digital Humanities is an emergent academic field that studies the tensions and issues arising from new ways we express ourselves and make sense of human experience using digital networks, computational abilities and data. The influx of digital resources (including images, social media, text, video and audio streaming, digital analytics, visualization of data and gaming) are changing the ways we think about production, circulation and consumption. In response, this course examines the network society and how algorithms ‘think’, i.e. the growing importance of AI (artificial intelligence) and its potentials, limitations and algorithmic ethics. It addresses ways networks, databases, open archives and digital tools are changing research methods across platforms. Students will then consider how digital technologies are shaping approaches to education and pedagogy, information design and the growing importance of gamification. By the end of the course, students will be familiar with key issues arising in the digital humanities and, more broadly, ethical issues and epistemic tensions facing society as a whole in the wake of emerging new media technologies and practices.

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, you will have developed foundational understandings of:

  • introduce topics, issues, and concepts with which you need to be familiar in the study of new media
  • explain ways in which the new media have engendered a reassessment of earlier media theory
  • help you to apply contemporary theories and methodologies of new media studies and of digital humanities to your own research
  • deepen your understanding of the relationship between people and machines by raising relevant ethical and philosophical questions about cyberculture
  • provide extensive practice with critical and analytical tools constructed for research and analysis

Student Evaluation

The following table summarizes the evaluation activities and the credit weights associated with them.

Course Evaluation Weighting
Weekly Participation 15%
Assignment 1 – Short Essay / Blog Post 15%
Assignment 2 – Digital Analysis 25%
Assignment 3 – Final Research Paper 45%
Total 100%

Course Outline/Structure

MAIS 623 is organized into units, based on theoretical and methodological approaches to new media, especially as they apply to the emergent field of digital humanities.

  • Unit 1 - What is Digital Humanities?
  • Unit 2 - Introduction to the Internet
  • Unit 3 – Making Sense of Digital Networks
  • Unit 4 – What are Digital Ethics?
  • Unit 5 – What are Digital Ethics? 2.0
  • Unit 6 – Becoming Cyborgs and Data Visualization
  • Unit 7 – Reading Week
  • Unit 8 - Thinking with Machines: The Dark Shadows
  • Unit 9 – Thinking with Machines: The Promise and Gains
  • Unit 10 – Electronic Research Inside and Outside the Library System
  • Unit 11 – The Future of the Digital Humanities

Course Materials

The course materials for MAIS 623 include the items listed below.


W. J. T. Mitchell and Mark B. N. Hansen, eds., Critical Terms for Media Studies, Chicago: Chicago UP, 2010.

Lanier, Jaron. You Are Not a Gadget : A Manifesto. New York: Knopf, 2010.

Athabasca University Online Materials

Course Home Page: You will find Course Information (including the Assignment File and other pertinent information) at the top of the course home page. You will also find your Study Guide presented unit by unit online. You will find your assignments and links to submit your work to your professor on the course home page.

Athabasca University Library: Students are encouraged to browse the Library's Web site to review the Library collection of journal databases, electronic journals, and digital reference tools:

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Open in January, 2015.