curated syllabi

There are a lot of cool courses out there about digital humanities. Many exist as part of library programs, and are focused on preservation and access, or as part of archival and editorial programs, with a focus on digitization. I like all of those things, but most of all I like courses which focus on teaching humanists how to computationally augment their research. The focus can be on the use of pre-packaged tools or online services, learning to program, algorithmic theory as applied to the humanities, statistics and visualizations, or whatever else might serve the goal of teaching humanities students to apply and think critically about computational methods.

Many people have already compiled great lists out there of DH syllabi, collected all together by the ALLC, but two worth pointing out are this collaboratively edited zotero library, and CUNY’s own curated collection. They all exist for different purposes; mine focuses specifically on the computational and ‘making’ aspects of DH. Below is an annotated list of courses I think meet this goal, which I hope to continuously update as they appear. Please submit any courses I’m missing in the comments!

David Bamman and Christopher Warren

Digital Literary and Cultural Studies: Six Degrees of Francis Bacon | 76-429/829 | Carnegie Mellon University

  • Fall 2013 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Graduate and advanced undergraduate seminar co-taught between English and Computer Science, aimed at students of both departments, focusing on Renaissance and Early Modern studies (1500-1700) and teaching methods like social network analysis, visualization, etc., including a heavy lab component.
  • Course Description (from syllabus)Digital Literary and Cultural Studies: Six Degrees of Francis Bacon is a graduate (and advanced undergraduate) seminar bridging the Department of English and the School of Computer Science. Students will develop a broad technical understanding of state-of-the-art methods in the digital humanities (including social network analysis, topic modeling, classification techniques, and visualization), investigate the histories of such methods, and put them to use through in-depth application to a specific domain: Renaissance and Early Modern Studies (ca. 1500-1700). Open to students across multiple Colleges and degree programs, particularly Computer Science, CFA, and Dietrich H&SS (with no prerequisites required), this course will address questions such as: What can networks teach us about culture and history? Can networks illuminate the spread of ideas and information across time? What’s the proper role of the algorithm in cultural and historical studies? What assumptions do we make when applying a particular algorithm to text? How do we judge and critique the validity of a computational analysis? Does an emphasis on “collaborative making” change how people think about arts, culture, and the humanities? Humanities students will learn the foundational methods used in the computational analysis of text; CS students will use network science as a lens into cultural history; and designers and information scientists will practice making humanities knowledge visible and appealing. The course will bridge divides, not only between the “digital” and the “humanities,” but also between the qualitative and the quantitative, between theory and practice, critique and poesis – ultimately, thinking and doing.

Jim Brown

Writing and Coding: Composition, Computation, and New Media Studies | L&S 102 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Fall 2012 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Undergraduate introductory course comparing composition of computer programs with the composition of text. Students create video games, work with circuit boards, and write interactive fiction.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): This course is part of a freshman interest group (FIG) that will encourage students to view writing as something more than words on the page (or even words on the screen). Students will take Introduction to Composition (English 100), Introduction to Computation (Computer Science 202), and this course. By linking together their work in computer science and composition, students will study the similarities and differences between the composition of computer programs and the composition of text. In L&S 102, students will combine the skills they learn in these two courses as they interact with various new media technologies and work in groups to create video games, author interactive fiction, and work with computing hardware (such as PicoBoards). Students will examine computation as not only a practical skill but also as an expressive and creative practice. No programming experience is required for this course, and classes will often be treated as workshops in which students get the opportunity to explore and tinker.

Digital Rhetorics | English 550 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Spring 2012 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Graduate seminar exploring expression in video games and comics; students spend time creating both. Also includes history and theory of both.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): Aristotle describes rhetoric as the faculty of observing, in any particular case, the available means of persuasion. Digital technologies have expanded these available means, calling for new ways of understanding rhetorical theory and rhetorical expression. This course will investigate two emerging modes of expression: videogames and sequential art (comics). The course includes a discussion of the history of rhetoric and its contemporary applications, and students will then both analyze and produce videogames and comics. In the course of creating and critiquing digital objects and environments, we will also build new theoretical approaches for reading and writing digitally. We will be asking: How do we cultivate a rhetorical sensibility for digital environments? What new rhetorical theories do we need for digital technologies? What are the available means of persuasion when using such technologies? No specific technical expertise is required for this course.

Literature and Computer Programming | E314J | University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Fall 2006 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Undergraduate course exploring the role and story of the computer programmer and hacker, exploring the relationship between coding and writing.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): We’ll address numerous questions in this class, including: Who gets to tell the story of the computer programmer, the problem solver, the coder? Has this story been told fairly? Has it been told completely? How could one tell some counter-stories/counter-histories of the hacker? How do representations of the hacker character in literature and popular culture contribute to hacker culture? Do hackers thrive on this image, or do they disregard it altogether? This course will take on these questions and many more in an attempt to understand representations of the computer programming community. We will begin from the assumption that literature, culture, and stories matter just as much as the code that sits behind/underneath/inside your operating system. Representations of the hacker and the “computer geek” do important work in constructing images and categories. Our job will be to compile these stories. That is, we’ll compile narratives the way a computer program is “compiled” – we’ll decode and recode the narratives of the computer programmer.

Rachel Sagner Buurma

Victorian Literature + Victorian Informatics | ENGL 040 | Swarthmore College

  • Fall 2014 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Undergraduate core course on the relationship between Victorian literature and information, with a balance between literature and methodological theory. Methods include regular expressions and visualization.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): This mid-level core course offers a survey of canonical Victorian literature through the lens of Victorian information theories and knowledge organization practices. Reading texts like Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret, Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market,” Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh, Alfred Tennyson’s In Memoriam A.H.H., Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy, John Henry Newman’s The Idea of the University, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, we will investigate the relation between information, knowledge, and literature: how did Victorians imagine literature as information? And how do new literary-critical methods of interpretation draw on the idea of literature as information to test old readings and invent new ones? Calibrating the distance between various Victorians’ ideas about information and our own, we will read Tennyson’s In Memoriam A.H.H. alongside Lewis Carroll’s index for that famous poem before creating our own indexes to it, study John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty” by comparing it to his complete works using topic models, and interpret Darwin’s The Origin of Species alongside three different visualizations of that work’s seven major revised editions and our own experience with textual version control. Throughout, we will focus on developing techniques for close, middle-distance, and distant reading, with an emphasis on exploring digital tools for finding, organizing, counting, curating, decomposing, rereading, and remaking literary texts.

Ryan Cordell

Technologies of Text | ENGL 3339 | Northeastern University

  • Fall 2012 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Undergraduate course teaching text as a technology and text through various technologies, with major sections.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): When you hear the word “technology,” you may think of your computer or iPhone. You probably don’t think of the alphabet, the book, or the printing press: but each of these inventions was a technological innovation that changed dramatically how we communicate and perhaps even how we think. Texts are the heart of most disciplines in the humanities—literature, philosophy, history, religious studies—but this course will argue that technology and humanistic study are deeply intertwined. Literature in English, for instance, has always developed in tandem—and usually in direct response to—the development of new technologies—e.g. printed texts, newspaper publication, radio, film, television, the internet. Our primary objective in this course will be to develop ideas about the ways that modern innovations, including computers and the internet, continue to shape our understanding of texts (both classic and contemporary) and the human beings that write, read, and interpret them. In order to help us understand these recent changes, we will compare our own historical moment with previous periods of textual and technological upheaval. We’ll learn that many of the debates that seem unique to the twenty-first century—over privacy, intellectual property, information overload, and textual authority—are instead new iterations of familiar battles in the tumultuous history of technology and literature. We will also see how modern scholars are illuminating these debates from our textual past using the rapidly changing tools of our textual present: e.g. geographic information systems, data mining, textual analysis. Finally, we will gain new skills for working with texts as we develop original, digital research projects using archival materials from the Northeastern and/or Boston Public Libraries.
  • Course blog: Technologies of Text

Fred Gibbs

Digital History | History 696 | George Mason University

  • Fall 2013 syllabus: Online | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Introductory graduate course on practicing history in the digital age, focused on theory.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): This course explores the theoretical and methodological issues raised at the intersection of the history profession and technology. It aims to provide conceptual fluency on broad topics such as the uses of new media in relation to history and historical narrative, the implications of copyright law on access to historical data and scholarship, the changing role of museums and libraries, and the politics of authority and expertise in knowledge networks. The course also examines in some depth the future of historical research, especially how powerful new research methodologies now allow historians to ask and answer fundamentally different kinds of questions. Overall, the course seeks to challenge the typical conceptions of how one ought to produce and consume history, and, more broadly, to provide guidelines for effectively using technology in the humanities.

Programming for Historians | History 698 | George Mason University

  • Fall 2013 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Teaches programming skills useful for historians, including web, markup, databases, web scraping, visualizations, and text mining.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): This course explores the techne (art/techniques) of digital history. It aspires to open new possibilities for historical research, especially in terms of asking and starting to answer fundamentally different kinds of questions. Historians typically develop important critical skills in parsing different kinds of sources, gaining familiarity and experience with possibilities and limitations of various kinds of sources. A key premise of the course is to learn to think about historical sources–regardless of kind–as data, and historical research can benefit from thinking in terms of data analysis. This course requires that you can bring a laptop to each class.

Shawn Graham

Digital History | FYSM 1405 | Carleton University

  • Fall 2011  & Winter 2012 syllabusArchived
  • Fall 2010 & Winter 2011 syllabus: Archived
  • Executive Summary: Year-long introductory undergraduate seminar on data mining, agent-based models, GIS, and games as they pertain to the study of history.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): This seminar looks at the ways history can be represented, explored, and written using various digital tools. It also explores how media of communication more generally affect society, from antiquity to the modern day. 3000 years ago, literacy and the power to record history were the privileges of the few. To record the past was to control it. 3000 years later, and the inverse is true: literacy is widespread, and every voice has an outlet on the internet; who then controls the past? When you add the internet to the mix, how does history change? This course will survey various concepts and tools currently being used in ‘Digital History’, especially as they concern the representation of Greco-Roman antiquity. Topics to be discussed may include data mining, agent based modeling, geographic information systems, and serious games. We will explore these topics through various mini-projects; be prepared to engage in group work.

Cities and Countryside in the Ancient World | HIST 3902A | Carleton University

  • Fall 2012 syllabusArchived
  • Executive Summary: Advanced undergraduate course exploring cities historically and archaeologically, focusing on computational modeling, network analysis, and GIS.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): Cities are creatures of the countryside. Understanding that relationship is key to understanding the ancient world. Discuss. This course looks at the relationship between cities and countryside in the ancient world, as evidenced primarily through landscape archaeology. I will be arguing, amongst other things, that the form of that relationship is the key indicator for understanding the mindset, the nature of, that particular culture. It is no accident that ‘cities’ and ‘civilization’ are etymologically related: thus, looking at cities and countryside will give us an understanding of what being civilized meant in antiquity.

Digital History | HIST 5702 | Carleton University

  • Fall 2012 syllabusArchived
  • Executive Summary: Introductory graduate seminar exploring the ramifications of digital history and the tools used to research it. Emphasis is placed on data mining, text analysis, mobile computing, GIS, games, and augmented reality.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): In this seminar, we will be looking at what Digital History is, the ways it changes the questions we can ask about history, the way digital methods change what it is even feasible to ask, and how we communicate this research to a wider public. Technology is not neutral, and we will be exploring the ramifications of that realisation. Given that many digital tools are also new media tools, the practice of digital history is also often a kind of public history. This course will explore various concepts and tools currently being used in Digital History. Topics to be discussed may include data mining & text analysis, mobile computing & geographic information systems, and serious games. In terms of major project work to put these ideas into practice, we will be building an augmented reality application connected with the history of the City of Ottawa. We won‟t however be building this from scratch. Rather, we will be exploring the various platforms that exist to see if we can mash up various services to create a viable product. What are the implications for telling history in this way? One of our outcomes will be a how-to digital handbook for historical societies and others, so that augmented reality becomes a possibility for a wider range of creators, storytellers, and historians.

Matthew L. Jockers

Beyond the Book | English 153H | Stanford University

  • Fall 2008 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Undergraduate course on humanities computing, specifically literary text analysis. Focused on hands-on research with a number of tools, including some programming with XML and PHP.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): Digital texts and digital libraries offer us new opportunities for searching and accessing literary material. But more interesting and exciting than the mere searching of digital texts is the ability to leverage computation in order to process and analyze textual data, to provide new methods for reading, analyzing, and understanding literature. “Digital Humanites: Beyond the Book” provides an introduction to the field of humanities computing with a special emphasis on literary text-analysis. Students learn about the preparation and processing of digital texts while exploring literary questions. The course includes units dealing with “stylometry” (computer based stylistic analysis), authorship attribution, gender detection, text encoding, and the visualization of literary information using such tools as Many Eyes, Google Earth, Excel, and custom tools we develop in the class. Throughout the course we consider the theoretical issues associated with employing quantitative methodologies in a traditionally qualitative discipline; we read and discuss landmark essays in the field; and we end with an informed discussion of how digital libraries and computation are taking literary scholarship “beyond the book.” Students will develop basic coding skills in an environment in which understanding literature is the only prerequisite. No programming experience is required; students will develop fluency in XML and PHP through exercises and work on a collaborative text-analysis project.

Critical Methods – Digital Humanities | English 162 | Stanford University

  • Spring 2012 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Undergraduate course on humanities computing, specifically literary text analysis. Focused on hands-on research with a number of tools, including some programming with XML and R.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): Digital texts and digital libraries offer us new opportunities for searching and accessing literary material. But more interesting and exciting than the mere searching of digital texts is the ability to leverage computation in order to process and analyze textual data, to provide new methods for reading, analyzing, and understanding literature. This course provides an introduction to the field of humanities computing with a special emphasis on literary text-analysis. Students learn about the preparation and processing of digital texts while exploring literary methods which help us explain and interpret literary texts, genres, and movements. The course includes units dealing with “stylometry” (computer based stylistic analysis), authorship attribution, gender detection, text encoding, and the visualization of literary information using such open source tools as R and Gephi. Throughout the course we consider the theoretical issues associated with employing quantitative methodologies in a traditionally qualitative discipline; we read and discuss landmark essays in the field; and we end with an informed discussion of how digital libraries and computation are taking literary scholarship “beyond the book.” Students will develop basic coding skills in an environment in which understanding literature is the only prerequisite. No programming experience is required; students will develop fluency in XML and R through exercises and work on a collaborative text-analysis project.

Literary Studies and the Digital Library | English 253 | Stanford University

  • Fall 2009 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Macro analysis of literary texts for undergraduates, research-focused.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): Exploration of a variety of ways of reading, interpreting, and understanding literature at the macro-scale, as an aggregate system. Consideration of theoretical issues, reading and discussion of landmark essays in the field, and an understanding of how digital libraries and literary corpora are inviting new types of literary research that frequently challenges conventional approaches.

Lauren Klein

Digital Humanities | LCC 3843 | Georgia Tech

  • Spring 2012 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Undergraduate course focusing on literary studies, particularly as they pertain to spatial mapping, text analysis, and digital editions, using pre-packaged tools.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): This course begins with the basic premise that theoretical concepts can be engaged through method. To this end, we will explore the theories that underlie digital humanities scholarship—in particular, as they relate to literary studies—through the practice of three major sets of methods associated with this emerging field. The first set will explore the tools and techniques related to mapping and spatial visualization; the second will concern techniques for the visualization and quantitative analysis of texts; and the third will address the creation of digital editions and archives. With the knowledge of these methods, as well as their underlying theories, students will be able to conceive and implement their own digital projects for their future scholarly work.
  • Course Blog: Digital Humanities

Anouk Lang

Introduction to Digital Humanities | QQ 405 | University of Strathclyde

  • Fall 2011 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Advanced (4th year) undergraduate course exploring the technologies of literature, including critical looks at data mining and mapping, followed by lessons in how to actually use them.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): Digital Humanities is a rapidly growing field of study in which scholarly applications of technology are used by humanities researchers to perform analyses and generate insights that would be difficult or impossible to achieve without the help of technology. The approach we take to DH in this course is grounded in literary and linguistic studies. We will examine the different varieties of language used online, and will consider digital developments in their historical context, alongside other technologies such as the printing press. We will also look at two kinds of technology being used by digital humanists in relation to literary studies – text mining and digital mapping – and we will explore, and critique, examples of projects which use these approaches. The hands-on nature of the course is such that you will have the opportunity to learn how to use these tools for yourself, and you will need to devote time each week to participating in the class’s virtual community through regular, informative contributions to the course WordPress site. As the main assessment for the course, you will produce a digital project which conforms to the same high standards of scholarly rigour as an assessed essay, but which is attentive to the specific imperatives of the online environment in relation to genre, design and format.
  • Course blog: Intro to DH

Alan Liu

Digital Humanities: Introduction to the Field | eng236 | UCSB

  • Fall 2013 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Graduate introduction to digital humanities aiming to balance ideas and technology, with a heavy helping of both. Topics include text encoding, text analysis, space/time modeling, and critical DH, with hands-on sessions every course. Includes a sample grant proposal assignment.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): In recent years, the digital humanities field (“DH”) has reached a critical mass of participants, publications, conferences, institutional programs, job calls, critical discourse, and general visibility. This course provides a graduate-level introduction to the field. The course introduces major types of digital humanities work and central topics and controversies. It asks students to develop project ideas and public visibility in their intended professional field in its relation to the digital humanities. Major topics include: the emergence of the digital humanities and the relation of DH to the humanities in general; the logic of text encoding (with some attention to relational databases); methods of text analysis (including quantitative analysis, topic modeling, and social network analysis); deep space and time in the digital humanities (visualization, mapping, archival theory, and media archaeology); “algorithmic criticism” and “deformance” theory; and “critical digital humanities” (including controversies about the field’s relation to “theory” and “cultural criticism”). A key aspect of the course is the balance it seeks between ideas and technology. Far-reaching ideas from both the human past and present are reexamined from a technological perspective, and–just as important–vice versa. The focal question for the first class, for example, is “What kind of ‘human’ subject do the digital humanities speak from, to, for?” And the focal question for one of the last classes is “How can the digital humanities contribute to the humanities in helping human beings understand other ways of ‘understanding’ and of being ‘human’?”

Elizabeth Losh

Digital Poetics | LTWR 103 | University of California, San Diego

  • Winter 2011 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Fall 2011 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Introductory undergraduate course on using digital tools to augment poetry, including learning basic programming.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): This workshop/lab for creative writers includes instruction on using software and writing basic computer code.   Student writers will create innovative web-based works that experiment with poetic form, draw on rich media resources, and provide more accessibility and interactivity for public audiences.  Participants will also be encouraged to interrogate the definition of poetry itself, as they work with different fonts, screen layouts, sounds, and rules and consider the analogies between writing poems and writing computer code.

Steven Lubar, Massimo Riva, and Jean Bauer

Visualizations in the Humanities | AMST2661, ITAL2661, MCM 2500F | Brown University

  • Fall 2013 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: An expansive undergraduate course combining theoretical, historical, literary, and practical work, with a heavy project and lab component, covering visualization theory, data prep, networks, maps, 3D printing and computer modeling, and other topics.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): Museums, maps, network graphs and datasets reflect and shape the work of scholars in the humanities. This course provides an overview of the way that literary and historical scholars have organized, analyzed, and presented their research to each other and the public. The course includes theoretical, historical and practical work. It combines traditional humanities and digital humanities, academic and public humanities. It includes significant lab work, with students undertaking projects in their fields of study.

Jentery Sayers

Everyday Life in a Digital Age | HUMA 150 | University of Victoria

  • Fall 2012 syllabus: Online | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Introductory undergraduate course on digital humanities tools and techniques, as well as new media studies of digital interactions.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): We are now quite familiar with the “impact narratives” surrounding digital technologies: they dramatically shape our attention spans, how we communicate, and how we access information. But how do we critically engage them? What are their histories, how might we integrate them into scholarly inquiry, under what assumptions, and to what effects on reading, writing, and interpretation? Intended for undergraduates unfamiliar with the “digital humanities,” this course surveys an array of tools, techniques, and cultures related to the field. Throughout the semester, students will translate their everyday interactions with things digital—the Internet, new media, mobile devices, and electronic text—into research practices anchored in the humanities. They will also unpack how popular depictions of digital culture influence the everyday uses and perceptions of technologies.

Tools, Techniques, and Culture of the Digital Humanities | HUMA 150 | University of Victoria

  • Fall 2011 syllabus: Online | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Introductory undergraduate course on digital humanities tools and techniques, as well as new media studies of digital interactions.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): This course offers students an introduction to the concepts, tools, and techniques of digital humanities, as well as a broader engagement with the intersections between new technologies and society.
  • Course website: Intro to Digital Humanities

Digital Representation and Creation in a Humanities Context: “How to Network a Novel” | HUMA 250 | University of Victoria

  • Spring 2012 syllabus: Online | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Intermediate undergraduate course focused on digitally annotating and analyzing a single novel as a class project.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): What’s the role of cultural criticism in a digital age? How is interpretation changing with the web? And how are art, language, literature, and the book changing along with it? With these questions in mind, this course blends literary studies and cultural criticism with digital technologies and social media.

Mapping the Digital Humanities | CHID 498 | University of Victoria

  • Spring 2009 syllabus: Online | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Advanced undergraduate course asking students to develop their own digital humanities projects via geographical and textual mapping, heavily influenced by programming and computational tools.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): What is the role of digital technologies in learning and taking humanities classes at the university? How are these technologies influencing humanities scholarship and research practices, as well as facilitating critical, collaborative, and creative inquiry? With these questions as a framework, this course provides you with the opportunity to develop your own digital humanities project throughout (and ideally beyond) an entire quarter. More specifically, the class is structured around two approaches to “mapping” in the digital humanities: geographical mapping and textual mapping. In the first instance, as a class, you will collaboratively compose an interactive, digital map of the University of Washington’s Seattle campus through a combination of photography, video, sound, text, and Google Maps and Earth. In the second instance, you will pursue individual projects, where you will use a blend of qualitative and quantitative approaches to produce a digital model of your own research on a particular text or texts. Put this way, both the collaborative and individual projects will function as vehicles for “animating” information and moving audiences toward new ways of engaging humanities research.
  • Course website: Mapping the Digital Humanities

Digital Literary Studies: History and Principles | English 507 | University of Victoria

  • Spring 2012 syllabus: Online | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Graduate seminar on multimodal (distant, close, etc.) approaches to studying literature and culture, includes topics of project proposals, media annotation, networks, maps, visualizations, markup, and more.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): This course gives you an opportunity to combine the hands-on production of multimodal scholarly communications with critical approaches to literature, new media, and digital culture. Here, by “multimodal,” I mean a material communication that demands more than one form of perception (e.g., distant reading, casual listening, scanning, or close watching) through more than one medium (e.g., audio, electronic text, image, video, or a database). With this definition in mind, throughout the term we will ask how creating knowledge through algorithms, networked environments, graphical expressions, and dynamic texts influences the theory and practice of literary studies. In so doing, we will intertwine three primary threads in digital literary studies (DLS): (1) the legacies of electronic literature (where DLS implies studying literature that is “digital-born”), (2) computational approaches to literary criticism (where DLS implies using digital technologies to interpret literature and/or compose scholarly communications), and (3) critical frameworks for computational culture (where DLS implies examining the recursive relationships between digital technologies and cultural assumptions, practices, and formations).
  • Coure website: Digital Literary Studies

Douglas Seefeldt

Digital History Seminar | HIST 970 | University of Nebraska-Lincoln

  • Spring 2011 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Graduate seminar on communicating history scholarship digitally, with a strong lab component including OCR, GIS, Text Analysis, XML, etc.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): This research seminar course will examine leading works of digital history scholarship, explore theories of narrative in hypertext, and develop models of digital scholarly communication. Students will be expected to conduct research around selected topics in history, focus their work on the creation of a digital project, and participate in class discussion on methods and theories of digital media. The emphasis in this course, however, will be to develop in students an acute awareness of the opportunities and challenges inherent in communicating one’s scholarship the digital medium. Students will explore the possibilities of digital history and engage the theoretical implications at every stage of their work. The final research project will feature the completion of an original piece of digital scholarship equivalent in scope to a research seminar paper.

Stéfan Sinclair

Reading Digital Texts | LLCU 606 | McGill University

  • Fall 2012 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Graduate course on analyzing digital texts with a focus on tools, programming in R, data mining, and distant reading.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): Digital texts are composed of discrete units of information that have the virtue of being infinitely malleable and reconfigurable, allowing new practices for searching, filtering, comparing, annotating, measuring, representing and understanding texts. From single works to virtual libraries, from canonical classics to contemporary social media, digital texts can provide rich fodder for interpretive practices in the digital humanities. This course will provide students with theoretical and practical foundations for working with a variety of digital texts.

William J. Turkel

Digital History | History 9808A | University of Western Ontario

  • Fall 2012 syllabus: Online | Archived
  • Fall 2011 syllabus: Online | Archived
  • Executive Summary: A digital history graduate seminar which focuses on both web presentation and computational analysis, where the weekly subject matter is chosen by the students.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): History 9808A is a one-semester graduate course on digital history that emphasizes both the presentation of history on the web, and the use of computational techniques to work with digital resources. It is required for students in the UWO public history program; other graduate students may take it with my permission. Digital history students may also be interested in the companion studio course History 9832B: Interactive Exhibit Design, offered in the winter term.

Digital Research Methods | History 9877A | University of Western Ontario

  • Fall 2013 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: A digital history graduate seminar which focuses on data mining, computational analysis, and presentation of digital sources, including skills like building search engines, using OCR, and scraping PDFs.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): Historical research now crucially involves the acquisition and use of digital sources. In History 9877A, students learn to find, harvest, manage, excerpt, cluster and analyze digital materials throughout the research process, from initial exploratory forays through the production of an electronic article or monograph which is ready to submit for publication..

Ted Underwood

Digital Tools and Critical Theory | English 581 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Spring 2012 syllabus: Online | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Graduate seminar focusing on computational tools for text and literary analysis, using R as a programming focus.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): “Digital humanities” is a broad rubric, which includes new objects of study (video games, electronic literature) as well as proposals for reforming academic communication (the open access movement). While we’ll discuss that whole panorama, I’d like to focus this course on the relationship between information technology and critical theory — because I see developments there that could be immediately useful for scholars studying a wide range of disciplines and periods. We’ll ask how humanists’ interpretive strategies may already have been shaped by technology, and explore ways of using technology to enlarge the range of strategies we have available.
  • Course Blog: Digital Tools and Critical Theory

Distant-Reading the Long Nineteenth Century | English 533 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Spring 2015 syllabus: Online | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Graduate seminar focusing on computational tools for text and literary analysis, using R as a programming focus, teaching students to distant read.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): […] Franco Moretti’s phrase “distant reading” has gained traction, slowly, over the last fifteen years. Close reading is a great thing. But if we were building the discipline of literary study from scratch today, with our current goals in mind, we’d probably also teach students how to find patterns in large digital libraries. Those libraries are creating opportunities for literary-historical research that would be obvious if we hadn’t already specialized in a different scale of analysis.
    In this course, we’ll use a language called R to “get our hands on the underlying stuff ” — aka, manipulate data. While R is a programming language, you don’t have to master programming in order to use it; it allows you to take steps one at a time. We’re going to proceed slowly, but I think by the end of the course you’ll be able to do meaningful research with R on a large sample of texts between 1750 and 1922.

Annette Vee

Making / Hacking / Composing | FP 0003 | University of Pittsburgh

  • Fall 2012 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Undergraduate freshman seminar on making as a means for composing, where students are enmeshed in DIY culture and the Maker movement, and encouraged to make both physical and digital objects.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): All over the America, people are knitting scarves, throwing their own pots, hacking software apps, soldering small electronics, composing their own music and videos, and cooking innovative food—the “do-it-yourself” movement is in full swing. This class will explore the contemporary “do-it-yourself” trend (often called “making”) through fiction, critical essays on industrialization, web communities such as Etsy and Instructables, as well as field trips to visit places where the “maker” movement is hot in Pittsburgh. We will be “making” our own projects, “hacking” our way through technologies, and composing essays, blog posts, and images. We’ll be talking about composition in a very broad sense: the composing of physical objects, traditional essays, online writing, and digital images and videos. You do not have to know particular software programs or be “makers” to succeed in the class, but you must be willing to use your hands and brains to make things with both physical and digital technologies. As we make things, we’ll always be thinking about what it means to compose in words versus physical and digital technologies.
  • Course blog: Making / Hacking / Composing

Literacy and Technology | ENGLIT 2501 | University of Pittsburgh

  • Spring 2012 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Graduate seminar looking at the interaction of literacy and technologies. Students are expected to, among other things, edit audio and create conceptual maps.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): We can think of literacy as an ability to express ourselves and communicate through technologies of inscription. How do these technologies shape the way we learn and practice literacy? What have these technologies looked like at various moments in history? What new forms of literacy are made possible through new technologies? How do new literacy technologies get taken up and distributed, and what forms of human expression are enhanced, constricted, or complicated by them? What role do we have in shaping literacy technologies, and what role do literacy technologies have in shaping us? In this seminar, we’ll explore the shapes that literacy takes with new technologies,and what that means for us as writers and teachers and readers in a time where technologies of writing appear to be rapidly shifting. We’ll look at the history of inscription technologies from clay tokens to the printing press to the Internet, with special attention to more recent literacy technologies—the World Wide Web, mobile devices, computers, video games, etc. We’ll explore theoretical perspectives on social factors shaping literacy and technology, and along the way, we’ll develop our own theories about the interactions between people, literacies and technologies.
  • Course blog: Literacy & Technology

Matthew Wilkens

Reading Digital Texts | English 90127 | Notre Dame

  • Fall 2012 syllabusOnline | Archived
  • Executive Summary: Graduate introduction quantitative literary studies, goes through all exercises in The Programming Historian.
  • Course Description (from syllabus): …This course is devoted to new methods and new objects in cultural and literary studies, specifically those enabled by digital media. It is not, however, primarily a course in media studies (though we’ll do a bit of that at the outset). We’ll spend most of our time covering both what kinds of criticism are made possible by the availability of digital cultural objects (especially digitized texts), whether those objects are born digital or are post facto electronic surrogates, and how to perform the technical operations necessary to carry out such criticism. The course thus has a substantial technical component, one no more difficult than — but substantially different from — most of your existing experience in literary studies. That said, the idea is certainly not to replace the methods you’ve previously mastered, but to supplement them with new approaches, issues, and questions that will allow you to do better the kinds of cultural and literary criticism you’ve already begun to practice…

3 thoughts on “curated syllabi”

  1. Hi Scott, I’m teaching a course called Hacking the Humanities at Carleton College for the second time that might be in line with those listed on your syllabus. Check it out and see what you think. Thanks!

    Fall 2015: medhieval.com/hackinghumanities2015
    Winter 2015: blogs.carleton.edu/hacking-humanities

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