Build Your Own Website

This assignment is adapted from the sterling model developed by Brian Croxall for an undergraduate DH class. Many of the basic skills it aims to teach, however, are very applicable to twenty-first century graduate work in the humanities.


Scholars in a field called “digital humanities” are, perhaps not surprisingly, often very active online. Many share their scholarship through blogs or social networking sites such as Twitter. In the Digital Humanities Compendium (which drives Digital Humanities Now), you will find lists of notable blogs and Twitter feeds. And indeed, DHNow is based on a “post-publication” model of peer review, in which scholarship is first published on blogs and is then certified based on its circulation and praise within the scholarly community. This assignment asks you to begin building your own scholarly presence online so you can participate in those conversations.

I have three primary goals in asking you to build your own website:

  1. Becoming facile with web publication (including managing a domain, deploying content management systems, and using HTML and CSS) is a good first step toward gaining skills you could use learning more advanced digital humanities tools and platforms.
  2. It provides you a platform to begin doing and sharing work with digital humanities scholars and with other scholarly communities.
  3. It will enable you to complete the course blogging assignment while building a portfolio of work for use after and outside this class.

I’m asking you to build your own website as a chance to write yourself into the digital humanities world. Deciding how to rhetorically position yourself in relation to your studies and your career goals is important. This is a chance to take a first stab at this process and why I’m asking that you consider buying a domain name that is somehow related to your own name, though this is by no means required. Indeed, many DH scholars are known just as readily by their monikers (@readywriting, @wykenhimself, @samplereality) as by their actual names. If you prefer to blog for this class anonymously, you may—so long as I know which domain is yours.

The Nitty Gritty

Here are the nine things you need to do.

  1. Purchase a domain from
  2. Install WordPress on your domain.
  3. Choose a new theme to install on your site and activate it.
  4. Find one thing that you wish your website could do. Find a plugin to do it. Install that plugin.
  5. Install Akismet as a plugin. Get an API key and activate it.
  6. Create an “About” page. On that page write a brief paragraph or two about yourself: your field of study, your teaching interests, and any other professional information you would want colleagues to know if they found this website.
  7. Create one other static page about something. It could be where you post an assignment you do for class. It could be further details abut your research or your teaching (your teaching philosophy would be nice, if you’ve written one), or it could be your CV.
  8. Post your first blog entry for the blogging assignment.
  9. Email me by September 10 letting me know the assignment is complete. Be sure to include your blog’s URL, your Akismet key, and a sentence or two describing what plugin you installed and why.

I’m happy to help you with any or every stage of this assignment, but I strongly urge you to attempt each step on your own first. One of the most valuable skills for doing DH work is comfort with experimentation and—yes—even the failure that sometimes accompanies that experimentation.

Alternative Assignment

If you already have a personal domain and installation of WordPress, you can instead complete this assignment by mapping a different app or service to your domain. We can talk about those other platforms if you want to pursue this option.