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Digital Methods Proseminar

Digital Methods Graph Digital Humanities: Introduction and Methods

Tuesdays: 12:30-3:00
Humanities Institute Conference Room
Voorhies, 2nd Floor

    Course description

    This course provides an introduction to the discipline and methods of the Digital Humanities. It is part history, part theory, and part practicum, designed to:

    1. Help you situate the application of digital methods (and yourself as a scholar) within the wider disciplines of the Humanities in general and the Digital Humanities in particular.
    2. Introduce a range of frequently applied methods and explain their application, benefits, and limits.
    3. Teach the basic skills needed to begin applying digital methods in your own scholarship.

    Course requirements

    In order to receive a passing grade for the seminar, all students must participate in seminar practicums, complete several small assignments, and do one in-class presentation. Note that all assignments are non-programming in nature. We will spend a significant amount of time programming in the practicums, but successful completion of programming tasks is not an evaluative criteria for course completion.


    Computing hardware and software requirements

    Each student must bring a computer (Mac, Linux, or Windows) to each seminar session. (I recommend a laptop, but more power to you if want to haul a workstation and multiple monitors to class every week!) It is important that you use the same computer throughout the course, as we will be setting up a special software environment at the beginning of the course and you will need this environment in order to participate in the practicums.


    September 29: Course introduction

    Practicum: Installapalooza

    Description: This session will be devoted to introducing the course structure and requirements and to getting a complete development environment setup on each person’s computer. We will also discuss a few concepts not covered during the course due to time constraints but with which you should be familiar.

    Source Reading:


    October 6: History of humanities computing and birth of the Digital Humanities

    Practicum: Textual Markup

    Description: This session will be devoted to discussion of the history of humanities computing and the birth and evolution of Digital Humanities as its own field of study. Textual markup using TEI will also be introduced.


    October 13: No class meeting

    There will be no class meeting on October 13. Use the time to complete your text markup and to work on your in-class presentation.


    October 20: Welcome to the command-line

    Practicum: Unix/Linux Command Line and Git basics

    Description:This predominantly practical session will be devoted to the basics of working with the Unix/Linux command-line and the Git version control repository.


    October 27: Programming concepts and intro to R

    Practicum: R Studio Tutorial
    In-Class Presentations: Student 1 and Student 2

    Description: This discussion portion of this session will focus on introducing key concepts in computer programming and text processing. The practicum will be devoted to a tutorial on working with R using R Studio.


    November 3: What is data?

    Practicum: Data Scraping and Cleaning
    In-Class Presentations: Student 3 and Student 4

    Description: The focus of this unit is the process of corpus creation through data scraping and cleaning. We will learn how to scrape content from the web and to process it for future analysis. Discussion will focus on the difference between information and data and the process of transforming one into the other.


    November 10: Basic approaches to textual analysis

    Practicum: Tokenizing, lemmatization, frequency and correlation analysis
    In-Class Presentations: Student 5 and Student 6

    Description: This session will focus on basic text processing techniques required as the basis for nearly all modes of textual analysis. Topics covered will include stemming, lemmatization, semantic reduction, naïve Bayesian classification, and word frequency analysis. We will discuss the hardware and software based biases that computers bring to these tasks and how these affect, direct, expand, and/or limit how human scholars engage with text as data.


    November 17: What is reading?

    Practicum: Lexical Correlation and Lexical Variety
    In-Class Presentations: Student 7 and Student 8

    Description: This unit focuses on basic modes of machine textual “reading” by analyzing of the words on the page and their relationships to each other. We will learn to perform various modes of machine reading and also discuss their benefits and limitations.


    November 24: Clustering and topic modeling

    Practicum: Clustering and Topic Modeling
    In-Class Presentations: Student 9 and Student 10

    Description: This unit focuses on modes of modeling textual content. We will learn how to build several types of models and discuss the math behind them. We will also investigate their use and misuse, and the impact of modeling on humanities scholarship.


    December 1: Seeing is believing?

    Practicum: Visualization
    In-Class Presentations: Student 11 and Student 12

    Description: This unit will focus on data visualization. Specific topics of discussion will be the advantages and limitations of visualization as a means of communication as and the methods for fitting the correct visualization to the correct dataset. The practicum will introduce several visualization packages that will be used to generate visualizations of data previously created during course practicums.


    Final gathering

    During finals week we will meet in an informal setting (time, place, and location TBD based on everyone’s schedule). At this final meeting we will discuss each other’s prospectuses for future digital projects and any other topics or questions of interest to the group.


© 2015 by Carl G Stahmer
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