Projects and Courses

A Phenomenology of Gede: Thinking with the Dead in Haiti

Dr. Nathan Dize (Vanderbilt University)

This course proposes a study of Haitian literature through the lens of Gede as authors transgress temporal, spatial, and linguistic boundaries to communicate with and through the dead.

Course Goals

Three objectives for this course:

  • to familiarize students with a broad spectrum of Haitian writing about and through the memories of the dead;
  • to facilitate student exposure to Haitian modes of thinking and religious praxis;
  • and to develop skills in identifying, interpreting, and constructing historical narratives that foreground the voices of the dead through written and presentational assignments

Outcomes & Deliverables

The course emphasizes student research in digital collections of Caribbean primary and secondary sources to facilitate close reading of textual and visual materials.


Course syllabus

Schedule with descriptions of assignments and links to digital resources (Shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license.)

Vodou Archive

The course made heavy use of this collection, which includes over 300 photos, texts, video, and scholarly works.

Institute Reflection

Dr. Dize’s perspective on the institute experience

Blog Posts Reflection

Reflection: Nathan Dize

Nathan Dize (PhD Candidate in French and Italian, Vanderbilt University) discusses how participation in the Caribbean Digital Humanities Institute expanded his understanding of how digital scholarship and tools can be applied in the classroom. Combining his background in Haitian literature and history with a new knowledge of digital humanities tools, Nathan applied his experience with the institute by designing several new courses.

My experience with the Caribbean Digital Humanities Institute was a formative experience in that it enabled me to acquire new skills, to build community and network, and it expanded my ideas for where my digital scholarship and teaching could go next.

Nathan Dize sitting at table and speaking during session

The focus on both TimeLineJS and StoryMapsJS during the institute was helpful because these were ‘tools’ that I had seen before, but never had the chance to actually experiment with or use in a learning environment. I appreciated the slow time that the Institute created where we could walk around the room and talk about how others were using these tools and others, to get a broad sense of what individuals can bring to digital modes of expression.

The CDHI completely expanded my understanding of what was possible when it came to oral histories and the affordances of community archiving. Since I am grounded in a discipline that does not always look favorably on these methodologies (they are considered non-canonical), I found that the CDHI provided me with the necessary means to challenge disciplinary assumptions made about oral histories in language and literature contexts. I’m not sure where else I would have gotten this initial training and it has left me longing to learn even more.

For me, I felt like the Institute could have gone on for another two weeks and I’m not sure that I would have tired of the group of people that were brought together a year ago. Not only was it a pleasure to learn with and from the other scholars, but the selection of folks in terms of career level and path brought in perspectives made the experience for me as a graduate student quite formative. In this way, I felt like the learning environment was reciprocal.