Professor Kristen Case, Department of English, directs the New Commons Project at the University of Maine-Farmington. It involves three key steps: open access participation in nominating literary or artistic works, finalizing a list of twenty four, and developing public conversations about them. The focus on crowd sourcing expands public participation; institutional roles, expertise, or education become secondary as the case presented for the nomination gains importance; in taking this approach, the project seeks to encourage creative and public participation in order to nurture literary appreciation and artistic expression in a variety of media outside of institutional, formalized boundaries. The New Commons is “new” in that it not only extends academic rigor and knowledge into public spaces by using digital tools but it encourages members of the general public to become readers, viewers, and producers of expressive content: public space becomes more open-ended, participatory, and creative.
The New Commons Project is supported by a $500.000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
An avid practitioner of Digital Humanities, Professor Misty Krueger uses a number of digital tools to build a digitally oriented classroom community, conduct research, and create projects. She and her students use tools such as free website builders (e.g., WordPress, Wix, and Weebly) to create career and literary websites and digital texts, Canva to generate infographics, Audacity to produce audio essays, Google Maps to chart literary characters’ travel, and Blackboard applications (e.g., discussion boards and wikis) to build students’ academic discourse.
Professor Krueger also takes advantage of professional sites such as the Folger Library’s Shakespeare series to search for passages in Shakespeare’s plays and chart how many times certain words and phrases appear in the Bard’s work. In the fall Misty will teach a new course in editing, and students will use Adobe InDesign to create literary journal issues. In her own scholarship, Misty has written about student’s use of web tools, such as YouTube and dating websites, to create literary adaptations; in addition to supporting the New Commons Project, she is currently working on an essay about her Austen students’ digital reading and writing communities.