Draft for New Course: Introduction to the Digital Humanities (UNR)


Introduction to the Digital Humanities: Syllabus

Professor Christopher Church
Department of History
University of Nevada, Reno

 Course Description

In the past three decades, our world has become increasingly digitized, and today the use of computers is unavoidable. All humanists today are digital humanists whether they realize it or not. Every day, we use digital tools that we take for granted: search engines and keyword searches, digital databases and online publications, email and scholarly collaboration, and the list goes on. Humanists need to approach the use of these tools critically, because their use has dramatically shaped the course and tenor of our research today.

With an eye to the methodological implications of digital scholarship, this course will provide students with a hand-on introduction to some of the core technologies that are necessary for courseconducting digital humanities research: databases, text encoding, and scripting. Being versed in these three technologies is vital to engaging with scholarship in the digital age, because all digital information is structured and manipulated using these fundamental tools. The goal of the course is not to become an expert in these technologies, which is not possible in a single 16-week course, but to be exposed to them and to think about their ramifications for the digital humanities.

This course address the historical methodological issues raised by digital scholarship and provide technical training in the core digital tools. The course will also meet in a computer lab every week for 2 hours, and each course meeting will consist of two parts: practical training and methodological implications.

Readings (selections from below)

1. Cameron and Richardson. Using Computers in History. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

2. A Companion to Digital Humanities, ed. Susan Scriebman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004. http://www.digitalhumanities.org/companion

3. Mark Merry. Databases for Historians: Designing Databases for Historical Research. London: Inst. for Historical Research, 2012. http://training.historyspot.org.uk/mod/book/view.php?id=75

4. Turkel, Crymble and MacEachern, The Programming Historian, 2nd ed. Network in Canadian History & Environment, 2009. http://niche-canada.org/files/programming-historian-1.pdf

5. Salminen and Tompa. Communicating with XML. New York: Springer, 2011.

6. “Learn the TEI”. Text Encoding Initiative. http://www.tei-c.org/Support/Learn/

7. The Virtual Representation of the Past. Ed. Mark Greengrass; Lorna Hughes. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2008.

8. Kristen Nawrotzki; Jack Dougherty. Writing History in the Digital Age. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2013.

http://www.digitalculture.org/books/writing-history-in-the-digital-age/

9. Hacking the Academy. Eds. Dan Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt, 2013. Center for History and New Media, George Mason University.

http://www.digitalculture.org/books/hacking-the-academy-new-approaches-to-scholarship-and-teaching-from-digital-humanities/

10. Todd Presner et al. Digital_Humanities. 

Recommended Online Companion Courses

 

Course Assignments

1. A short paper (5-7 pages) on the methodological implications of digitization and digital tools (30%)

2. Weekly practice exercises with the digital tools (20%)

3. A final project using the digital tools to conduct primary source research (50%)

 

Schedule of Classes

D: Discussion
L: Lab

Week 1 – Introduction to Digital Scholarship

D) What is (digital) history?

Readings:

• Sherman Dorn. “Is (Digital) History More than an argument about the Past?”
• Stefan Tanaka. “Pasts in a Digital Age”
• Lorna Hughes. “Conclusion: virtual representation of the past: new research methods, tools and communities of practice.” Virtual Representation of the Past.

Week 2 – A Critical Approach to the Digital World

D) Who gets to be an historian, and why? History and the Digital Public

Readings:

• Leslie Madsen-Brooks. ““I Nevertheless Am a Historian”: Digital Historical Practice and Malpractice around Black Confederate Soldiers.”

• Robert S. Wolff. “The Historian’s Craft, Popular Memory, and Wikipedia.”

• Jons Unsworth. “The Crisis of Audience and the Open-Access Solution.”

L) Exploring Blogs and Online Archives

• Creating your own blog (wordpress.com)

• Exploring Online Archives:

Old Bailey

• Online Archive of California

French Revolution Digital Archive

UNR Shared History Program

Week 3 – Digital Databases and Database Management Software

D) Historians as information scientists

Readings:

• Ansley T. Erickson. “Historical Research and the Problem of Categories: Reflections on 10,000 Digital Note Cards”

• Tim Hitchcock. “Digital searching and the re-formulation of historical knowledge.” Virtual Representation of the Past.

L) Building an Historical Database in Open Office Base

Readings:

• Mark Merry. Databases for Historians: Designing Databases for Historical Research.

Week 4 – Digital Databases and Database Management Software

D) History as Data?

Readings:

• Gibbs and Owens. “The Hermeneutics of Data and Historical Writing.”

• Donald Spaeth. “Representations of sources and data: working with exceptions to hierarchy in historical documents.” Virtual Representation of the Past.

L) Building an Historical Database in Open Office Base

Readings:

• Mark Merry. Databases for Historians: Designing Databases for Historical Research.

Week 5 – Database Management Software, Data Sets, and Data Analysis

D) Interpreting Historical Data

Readings:

• Fabio Ciravegna et al. “Finding needles in haystacks: data-mining in distributed historical datasets.” Virtual Representation of the Past.

• Helle Porsdam. “Digital Humanities: On Finding the Proper Balance between Qualitative and Quantitative Ways of Doing Research in the
Humanities.” Digital humanities Quarterly. Vol 7. No 3. (2013).

L) Building an Historical Database in Open Office Base

Readings:

• Mark Merry. Databases for Historians: Designing Databases for Historical Research.

Week 6 – XML, Markup Languages, and Textual Data

D) Data, Metadata, and the Stuff of Digital History

• Shlomo Argamon. Mark Olsen. “Words, Patterns and Documents: Experiments in Machine Learning and Text Analysis.” Digital Humanities Quarterly. Vol 3, No. 2 (2009).

• Michael Gramer. “Going Meta on Metadata.” Journal of Digital Humanities. Vol. 3, No. 2. (2014).

L) Activity: Marking Up Text in XML

• (Video) Lynda. What is XML.

Week 7 – HTML, CSS, and the Web

L) Codecademy

• HTML BASSICS I, II, III

L) Codecademy

• CSS: An Overview, Selectors, Positioning

Week 7 – XML and TEI

D) Markup, Historical Preservation, and Interoperabiltiy

Readings:

• “Learn the TEI”. Text Encoding Initiative. http://www.tei-c.org/Support/Learn/

• Jerome McDonough. “XML, Interoperability and the Social Construction of Markup Languages: The Library Example.” Digital Humanities Quarterly. Vol 3, N.3 (2009).

• “John Walsh. “Comic Book Markup Language: An Introduction and Rationale.” Digital Humanities Quarterly. Vol 6, No. 1.
(2012).

D) History and Born-Digital Sources

Readings:

• Matthew Kirschenbaum. “The .txtual Condition: Digital Humanities, Born-Digital Archives, and the Future Literary.” Digital Humanities
Quarterly. Vol 7. N. 1. (2013).

• Aden Events. “Web 2.0 and the Ontology of the Digital.” Digital Humanities Quarterly. Vol 6, no. 2.

Week 9 – Scripting Programming Languages – Python

D) Do you need to code to be a digital historian?

Readings:

• Lee Ann Ghajar, I code, you code, we code…Why Code?, February 16,
2012

• Michael Widner, Learn to Code; Learn Code Culture.

• Miriam Posner. “Some things to think about before you exhort everyone to code.”

Week 10 – Scripting Programming Languages – Python

L) Intro and Syntax: Codecademy

L) Strings and Console Output: Codecademy

Week 11 – Scripting Programming Languages – Python

L) Conditionals and Control Flow: Codecademy

L) Functions: Codecademy

Week 12 – Scripting Programming Languages – Python (Web Scraping)

L) Lists and Dictionaries: Codecademy

L) Lists and Functions: Codecademy

Week 13 – Scripting Programming Languages – Python (Web Scraping)

L) Loops: Codecademy

L) Programming Historian

Python Introduction and Installation

Working with Text Files

Code Reuse and Modularity

Working with Web Pages

Manipulating Strings in Python

From HTML to a List of Words (part 1)

From HTML to a List of Words (part 2)

Week 14 – Practical Applications of Digital Research Tools: Text Mining

D) Text and Data Mining in the Discipline of History

Readings:

Ted Underwood, “Where to start with Text Mining.”

• Justin Grimmer. “Text as Data: The Promise and Pitfalls of Automatic Content Analysis Methods for Political Texts.” Political Analysis. (2013):1-31.

• Strange et al. “Mining for the Meanings of a Murder: The Impact of OCR Quality on the Use of Digitized Historical Newspapers.” Digital Humanities Quarterly. Vol 8, No. 1 (2014).

L) Programming Historian

Normalizing Data

Counting Frequency

Creating and Viewing HTML Files with Python

Week 15 – Practical Applications of Digital Research Tools: Visualizing Data

L) Programming Historian

Output Data as an HTML File

Keywords in Context (Using n-grams)

Output Keywords in Context in HTML File

L) Visualizing Text with Voyant Tools

http://voyant-tools.org/

Brian Croxall, “Comparing Corpora in Voyant Tools”

Week 16 – Workshop on Final Projects

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