John Steinbeck’s America

At the Digital Scholarship Lab, we love working with faculty to incorporate digital humanities tools into their courses. Which is why we were ecstatic back in Spring 2017, when David Wrobel, Dean of OU College of Arts and Sciences, David L. Boren Professor, and Merrick Chair of Western American History, invited us to participate his class entitled “John Steinbeck’s America.” Working closely with David and our subject librarians, Laurie Scrivener and Liorah Golomb, we developed two distinct DH components of the course that fit in with the course’s objectives.

Annotating Steinbeck

The first project involved annotating Steinbeck’s works using a tool called hypothes.is. We loaded a selection of Steinbeck’s works into Canvas as OCR‘ed PDFs. As an in-class assignment students worked through the text doing a close reading. Working on different chapters, groups of students looked through the text identifying different themes. They then had a discussion in the text around these themes.

David Wrobel has a forthcoming article in The Steinbeck Review with more information about the course and his experience incorporating DH into the course.

For more about how hypothes.is works and how it was used in this course, please see the video below.

Creating Exhibits

Screenshot from steinbeck.oucreate.comThe second project involved the students creating online exhibits on different themes related to Steinbeck’s life and works. They used the online exhibit platform, Omeka for this purpose. As an aside, we are super fortunate at OU to have access to OU Create, where we were easily able to set up and  host the Omeka site for free. The topics covered include Steinbeck and Oklahoma, Steinbeck’s Travels, Steinbeck and War, Steinbeck on Stage and Screen, and East of Eden.

In Fall 2018, OU History Graduate student, Mette Flynt did amazing work editing the exhibits and website allowing us to publically launch the site in 2018. You can view the published projects at steinbeck.oucreate.com.

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