Tobias Boes University of Notre Dame

Tobias Boes

student projects

Screenshot of Google Lit Trip for Thomas Mann's "Buddenbrooks"I believe that in order remain relevant in the 21st century, literature departments need to complement their current focus on critical thinking and interpretive analysis with a productive dimension.  In other words, students should be encouraged to build tools that advance the humanities, not just to disassemble and clinically dissect texts.

Since arriving at Notre Dame, I have consequently tried to incorporate digital projects into all my literature and culture classes.  The freshmen who enroll in my University Seminar on “Fictions of the Known World” produce map-based reader’s companions to works of world literature that are then published on “Google Littrips,” an educational website that is unaffiliated with Google and currently receives more than 1,000 visitors a day from all over the world.  Additionally, students write response papers in which they explore what new information can be gleaned about a text by studying its geographical composition, thereby demonstrating productive relationships between analysis and cultural production.

Students in my upper-division classes on modernist culture contribute material to the “Yale Modernism Lab,” a scholarly website that normally accepts submissions only from graduate students and credentialed subject experts.  Students in other classes have written articles on German topics for Wikipedia, and have then given presentations on what their experience has taught them about the strengths and weaknesses of this ubiquitous resource.

Some samples of published student projects:

(1) Guide to Marco Polo’s The Travels on Google Littrips (GE 13186 – Fictions of the Known World, Fall 2010).

(2) Guide to Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks on Google Littrips (GE 13186 – Fictions of the Known World, Fall 2008).

(3) Entry on Franz Kafka’s “The Judgment” on Yale Modernism Lab (GE 30620 – Three Modern German Writers: Mann, Kafka, Seghers, Spring 2009).

(4) Entry on Sigmund Freud’s “Reflections on War and Death” on Yale Modernism Lab (GE 40610 – The Crises of Modernity in German Culture, Fall 2009).

(5) Wikipedia Article on Arnold Schoenberg’s The Book of Hanging Gardens (GE 40610 – The Crises of Modernity in German Culture, Fall 2007).