Nhora Lucía Serrano.

Nhora Serrano, associate director for digital innovation, learning and research, presented during the biennial Association for Computers and Humanities conference. She and several colleagues from Liberal Arts Collaborative for Digital Innovation (LACOL) partner institutions, and LACOL director Liz Evans discussed the group’s unique collaboration across peer colleges.

The presentation focused on the group’s team-taught course, LACOL’s Digital Humanities: Social Justice Collections and Liberal Arts Curricula. The course has been offered during summers at Hamilton since 2021.

During the eight-week course,  instructors introduce students from LACOL’s 11 partner schools to ways of working with digital humanities data, digital modes of humanistic inquiry, and specific approaches including text analysis and geographic analysis.

Students work in teams to implement projects that use digital methods to explore historically and socially relevant topics. Project ideas are drawn from students’ engagement with multiple campus archive collections, such as representations of BIPOC at predominantly white colleges and universities in the 1960s, and documenting women’s suffrage and environmental/climate movements across campuses.

In the presentation, Serrano and colleagues explored how the course was developed and implemented, and ways the partner schools have managed handoffs and transitions between their own institutions and this shared collaborative curriculum. They addressed key components for the success of the course, in particular how the LACOL model might be enacted among other institutions. The group also discussed how the course has sparked ongoing student engagement with digital humanities and social justice topics, which has led to the development of new courses at partner institutions.

Serrano also published a book review of Cherian George and Sonny Liew’s Red Lines: Political Cartoons and the Struggle against Censorship in the spring issue of Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society.

She said that Red Lines, published in 2021, “… breaks the traditional format of a scholarly publication by being an ambitious, in-depth and zine-like scholarly reportage that privileges over 60 cartoonists’ personal voices and their notoriously drawn political images.”

Noting that Red Lines was banned in Singapore due to its inclusion of reproductions of cartoons deemed offensive for religious groups, Serrano said that this shows how “Red Lines provocatively illustrates how political cartoons from around the world–drawn commentary on current affairs–are a crucial visual indicator of 'society's state of democratic freedom.’”

She added, “Red Lines reminds us how the varied forms of graphic free speech … no matter where they originated in the world or who and which government they may critique, must be protected and defended along with their creators, artists, and cartoonists so that the liberté d’expression can prevail in the face of adversity, suppression and censorship.”

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