Creativity animates the objects we study in the humanities. Humanistic inquiry in academia, however, often bypasses creative forms of expression in favor of more systematic, logic-driven, and analytical practices, formalized in products like argumentative essays. We know that one of the most effective ways for students to evaluate the components and production of creative works is to engage in creative practice, a pedagogical model exemplified the blended lecture and studio model in the arts. How can digital tools help us to similarly integrate studying and engaging with creativity in the humanities (and other disciplines with similar learning goals) to promote these kindred skills and literacies for today’s students?

Practice-based, creative inquiry in the humanities has been limited due to the amount of technical literacy students used to require in order to successfully use advanced, professional tools for creating new media today. In the past decade, there has been a proliferation of easy-to-use and web-based platforms for creating diverse media types. With these advances, we can now customize instructional technologies and pedagogical models to provide our students with the tools, resources, and instruction to critically analyze and creatively construct media within a single humanities course. Beyond the classroom, this kind of instruction also empowers students to creatively engage with and design new media forms that are shaping the shifting landscape of academic and professional work today.

With an interdisciplinary team of faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students in Stanford’s Poetic Media Lab, I am drawing on the best practices we have learned by creating and implementing Lacuna in order to create a new online space, Poetic Thinking. The web-based platform will be piloted in an annual Stanford course, “Poetic Thinking Across Media” and in collaborating courses listed in Art and Art History. The site, design, and accompanying pedagogical materials will be open-access resources for any Stanford instructor seeking to support the 21st century literacies needed to study and produce creative media as a form of academic inquiry.

To see an example of a former WordPress platform used for this project, visit

To learn more about the Poetic Media Lab, visit