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Teaching Translation with the Public Domain

This lesson plan for the Unclosure project uses public-domain poetry to teach the basics of poetic analysis, translation principles, and U.S. copyright to novice translation students. The goal of this lesson plan was “to demonstrate two major benefits of using public-domain resources in the translation classroom”:

  1. Since public-domain materials may be reproduced in full for free, they are ideal for classroom use. They may also be collected and anthologized for free to create DIY textbooks or source materials for translation projects.

  2. Students may publish their translations of public-domain materials without securing any translation rights. This enables students to build out a translation portfolio, in addition to providing an authentic audience for student work (whether work is made public or limited to peers).

I then developed this module into a full course that uses public-domain texts to teach Translation from Spanish to English: print syllabus ◆  course site. In addition to empowering students to translate works in the public domain, the course also educates students about publishing and protecting their own work as copyright holders themselves.

While I am not directly counting this course design toward my certificate requirements, I present it here as a testament to the contributions that my DH work has made to other areas of my development as a scholar.

Scholars' Lab Makerspace (Source: Makergrounds @ UVA)
Scholars’ Lab Makerspace (Source: Makergrounds @ UVA)

Curricular Intervention: Makerspace

In this curricular intervention, I proposed a module about makerspaces and the idea of making within DH scholarship and pedagogy. While this set of readings was inspired by my own experience working as a student technologist at the Scholars’ Lab Makerspace, this discussion ties into the “hack vs. yack” (or “methodology vs. ideology” and “practice vs. theory,” as we have observed it earlier in the semester) binary that forms a major fault line within DH—and without it, as the “analog” academy engages DH practices. These readings variably celebrate and critique makerspaces and the broader “maker culture” to which they belong, as well as the institutional Maker Movement that has popularized (and some would say sanitized) these concepts.

This module was proposed for DH 8991: Introduction to Digital Humanities (the core course), and thus contributes toward my coursework requirement. However, it is also presented here as a reflection of my year as a Makerspace technologist at the Scholars’ Lab (2017–2018), where I advised student makers on 3D printing and sewing.