A digital humanist's obsession with nursery rhymes

Kent Hooper reveres great literature and art from “Old World” Europe. But it would be wrong to call him “old school.” A decade ago, the German studies professor dove into the cutting edge of scholarship: the digital humanities, involving the creation of online archives of art, literature, history, and other disciplines. “I was absolutely crazy for it. People just decided to go the other way when they saw me coming, because I was always preaching digital humanities,” he recalls.

Chicago born, with an offbeat sense of humor that wins over his students, Kent is engaged in reinvigorating German studies with new classes and immersive study abroad. But the digital bug won’t let go. He is now creating the biggest-ever online collection of Mother Goose rhymes and illustrations—from “Humpty Dumpty” to “There Was an Old Woman Who Lived in Dundee.” I spoke with him in his Wyatt Hall office.