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Would you like to see how instructors incorporate DH approaches into syllabi for courses taught across the humanistic disciplines?  Here you can search our exhaustive catalog of publicly available syllabi, pinpoint useful assignments, and identify tools and technologies to implement in your classroom.

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Course Summary:

This seminar will provide students with the foundations for designing and executing oral history research projects. Students will read and discuss literature about oral history theory and methods and they will examine how historians use oral history interviews to construct interpretive historical narratives. The class requires prior knowledge of or the willingness to learn how to use digital recording devices, digital playback software, and digital methods of submitting course projects for archival preservation. Students will undertake independent fieldwork that will allow them to apply the methods and approaches studied in class. Field interviews will be either of someone from the community associated with La Salle University or of a U.S. war veteran.

Original Instructor: Barbara Allen
Taught at LeSalle University in Spring 2019
discipline: History
conceptual difficulty: 2 technical difficulty: 3
Course Summary:

The goals of this course are to:

● explore a broad spectrum of cultural institutions to discover the range of approaches to providing access to material, both in physical and digital manifestations
● develop familiarity with a range of digital humanities and cultural heritage projects, as well as the ability to evaluate the tools and methods involved in creating those projects
● become more thoughtful, critical, and reflective users of digital tools, technologies, and spaces by understanding that all technologies are complex, socially situated, and political tools through which humans make meaning

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

● demonstrate effective communication skills across a variety of media
● analyze how digital representations of artistic and historical artefacts communicate the materiality and significance of objects
● analyze how artistic and historical artefacts shape our understanding of culture and history
● integrate various disciplinary methods and apply them to course concepts

Original Instructor: Kristen Mapes
Taught at Michigan State University in Summer 2016
discipline: American Literature, English, Digital Humanities
conceptual difficulty: 3 technical difficulty: 4
Course Summary:

For more than a generation now, literary and cultural studies have operated amid the horizon of a historical turn—a sweeping deference to the almost palpable specificity of an acknowledged past, this deference governing projects across all major genres and periods. Increasingly, however, we see signs of what a 2011 volume of Continental philosophy named the speculative turn—or better, perhaps, acknowledging the Latin root speculat- (“to observe from a vantage point”), a speculative situation. Yet that situation is not one of philosophy only. “Speculation” is widely (if nebulously) understood as the root cause of the turmoil in the global financial markets of 2008. The speculative equally calls into view the data-driven forecasting whose scenarios of what-might-be have come to inform our daily experience of everything from the outcomes of elections to tomorrow’s weather. In literature, meanwhile, speculative fiction has emerged to name an increasingly prominent mode of writing that encompasses aspects of science fiction, environmentalism, and political and social critique.  

To constitute or construe this speculative situation for ourselves we will initially read deeply into the new speculative realist philosophy and accompanying—sometimes antagonizing—discourses such as the New Materialism, vitalism, feminist science studies, and object-oriented ontology. This reading will take up roughly the first half of the course. We will then look at a sampling of speculative fiction, including Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower and Kim Stanley Robinson’s New York 2140, as well as selections from popular non-fiction works like Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us and Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise. And we will revisit the financial speculation of a decade ago and consider the politics of occupying its aftermath. Other key authors (roughly in order of appearance) will include Quentin Meillassoux, Graham Harman, Levi Bryant, Tim Morton, Steve Shaviro, Ian Bogost, Elizabeth Grosz, Jane Bennett, Sara Ahmed, Rebekah Sheldon, Karen Barad, Donna Haraway, Fredric Jameson, Alexis Lothian, Kari Kraus, Andrew Blum, J. R. Carpenter, Katherine Hayles, Nick Srnicek, Benjamin Bratton, and the anonymous collective known as Uncertain Commons, among others, as well as Kant, Heidegger, and Deleuze and Guattari.

Throughout we will seek to foster awareness of the non-inevitability of the historical turn in literary and cultural studies, while also asking what is at stake in the current project of the speculative. History, nature, systems (and networks), and worlding will all be constant themes, as will what possibilities remain for acting, or simply living. The course should therefore be of interest to those working in any historical period, and to all citizens of a world that is still—however tenuously—with us.

Original Instructor: Matthew Kirschenbaum
Taught at University of Maryland in Fall 2017
discipline: English
conceptual difficulty: 1 technical difficulty: 2
Course Summary:

The bite of lead type into handmade paper where ink pools in the recesses pressed by the weight of the letters; a literal subtext on the page surfaced through acts of erasure; the hot liquid polymers of 3D-printed objects, deposited in tiny incremental layers to make shapes; lines of circuitry written into lines of text and animated with current; a book that tweets at you; a book that is also a toy box; a book that becomes what the poet and printer William Blake 2 once called an “unnam’d form” (see last page of syllabus). Taught with the resources and facilities available in our BookLab (Tawes 3248), this course will be a historical, imaginative, and experiential introduction to the multitudinous forms of what is not the oldest but is surely among the most enduring of human technologies, the codex book. Our work will be organized around practical and in-depth explorations of different elements of the codex: papermaking, letterpress printing with traditional lead (movable) type, bookbinding, 3-D printing, altered and treated books, and so on. Class-time will be a mix of discussion and hands-on activity. Using BookLab’s rich collections we will look at the work of contemporary book artists and printers as well as historical predecessors like Blake; we will examine the genre and form of the chapbook in the poetry and small press world; we will try out various experiments with books at the interface between print and the digital, including examples of books as portals for augmented and virtual reality; we’ll spend time with graphic novels and other innovative approaches to the space of the page; we’ll read a mixed media novel, Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves; and we will discuss throughout the politics of books as some of the most powerful instruments ever made for consolidating and exercising social hegemony as well as books as tactical platforms for resistance. In addition, we will enjoy visits and workshops from several critics and artists, as well as excursions to the nearby studios of Pyramid Atlantic (one of the preeminent book arts studios in the country)— as well as the Folger Shakespeare Library’s conservation lab.

Original Instructor: Matthew Kirschenbaum
Taught at University of Maryland in Spring 2019
discipline: English
conceptual difficulty: 2 technical difficulty: 3
Course Summary:

In the midst of the 2009 MLA Convention, Chronicle of Higher Education blogger William Pannapacker wrote, “Amid all the doom and gloom . . . one field seems to be alive and well: the digital humanities. More than that: Among all the contending subfields, the digital humanities seem like the first ‘next big thing’ in a long time, because the implications of digital technology affect every field.” More recently, William Germano, editor-in-chief for 20 years at Columbia University Press and now Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at Cooper-Union, opined on Twitter: “The spectacular rise of ‘DH’ as the most powerful digraph in the non-STEM academy.”

With the recent visibility and notoriety has come concern, critique, and even outright contestation. This year’s MLA in Boston, for example, featured a packed roundtable on the “Dark Side of the Digital Humanities” as one of the many dozens of sessions devoted to DH. All of this at a moment when higher education itself faces massive, truly unprecedented changes in the face of the emerge of MOOCs, the seemingly inexorable rise of adjunctification and contingent labor, challenges to the future of publishing and scholarly communication, and outright questions about the value (bottom line and otherwise) of the humanities disciplines themselves. Is DH complicit, or is it the last, best hope for a vibrant scholarly future?

Though the use of computers and computational methods in humanities research can trace a history going back decades before the popular advent of the Web, the white hot rise of digital humanities–as digraph and discursive construct, as emerging field with real academic infrastructure, and as floating (or flickering) signifier is arguably a phenomenon not seen since the rise of High Theory a generation earlier.

This course is designed to introduce students to current topics and critical issues in this diverse, complex, and rapidly changing “field.” Rather than seeking to offer a comprehensive overview, the course will be organized around four topical units or modules, each extending over a period of roughly three weeks. These are as follows: How to Read a Million BooksReimagining the ArchiveDigital Aesthetics/Digital Play, and The Changing Academy. There will also be introductory and closing class meetings.

For each module, students will read key essays and current statements from leading figures in the field, explore relevant projects and tools, and participate in intensive discussions, both in class and online. Though the English department offers this course under its “Readings” rubric, it is in truth a course as much about Doings as it is Readings. Evaluation will therefore be based on weekly hands-on exercises, blogging and other forms of public writing, class participation, fieldwork, a presentation, and a final, reflective piece of writing [read the Requirements for further details].

No technical skills are required or assumed other than a willingness to learn. Students must, however, be willing to engage in online activities, including various forms of social media.

The department will also be organizing a separate Colloquium on Digital Humanities. It is complementary to this course, not redundant. Students who elect to participate in both will thus receive an especially robust preparation for work in the digital humanities.

Original Instructor: Matthew Kirschenbaum
Taught at University of Maryland in Spring 2013
discipline: English, Digital Humanities
conceptual difficulty: 3 technical difficulty: 4
Course Summary:

Welcome to Digital History Methods (History and New Media HIST 677-477). This course explores the current and potential impact of digital media on the theory and practice of history. It also counts as a tool of research course, which means that it will provide you with knowledge of “standard tools of research/analysis.” In this course we are going to explore the impact digital technologies on the historian’s craft. The notion of the historian’s craft here is intentionally expansive. Digital tools are effecting nearly every aspect of historical work, including but not limited to; collecting, organizing, presenting and sources; analyzing and interpreting sources; modes of scholarly and broader public communications; techniques for teaching. As a methods course, our focus is entirely about the how of history not the what of history. We will focus on how digital tools and digital sources are affecting historical research and the emerging possibilities for new forms of scholarship, public projects and programs. For the former, we will explore new analytic methods (tools for text analysis and data visualization) along with work on issues related to interpreting born digital and digitized primary sources. For the latter, we will explore a range of digital media history resources, including practical work on project management and design. We will read a range of works on designing, interpreting and understanding digital media. Beyond course readings we will also critically engage a range of digital tools and resources.

Original Instructor: Trevor Owens
Taught at American University in Spring 2019
discipline: History
conceptual difficulty: 2 technical difficulty: 4
Course Summary:

This course explores the impact of digital technologies on notions of narrative or storytelling, examining how these technologies are changing the scope, definition, and ways of creating and experiencing the ‘literary’. We will examine works from four types of digital literature: 1) Writing Machines, or the intersection of the literary and digital 2 algorithms, formats, and programming languages; 2) Hypertext and Hypermedia; 3) Locative Narrative, which makes use of dynamic digital mapping technology to tell stories about and across material space; and 4) Digital Games and Narrative.

Original Instructor: Jason Boyd
Taught at Ryerson University Toronto in Fall 2015
discipline: English
conceptual difficulty: 1 technical difficulty: 3
Course Summary:

What happens when books become screens? When narrative turns into an interactive multimedia experience on a tablet? When reading becomes augmented by statistical analysis and data visualization? When literature is less written than composed as a form of new media art? When communities of readers interact with texts and each other through digital networks? This class invites students to ask these and more questions about how our texts, reading, and interpretive practices are changing in a digital age. We will examine electronic texts as well as experimental books and apps; read literature while exploring how computers can analyze and visualize language; and collaboratively document our experiences across a variety of social media platforms. Our works include classic as well as contemporary texts: some canonical, others experimental. This course requires no special technological skills beyond a basic familiarity with file management and the web. It welcomes students of any disciplinary persuasion, especially those curious to experiment in the classroom.

Original Instructor: Paul Fyfe
Taught at North Carolina State University in Fall 2014
discipline: English
conceptual difficulty: 2 technical difficulty: 3
Course Summary:

This course invites first-year students into a historically ranging, critically intensive, and hands-on learning environment about the technologies by which humans transmit our cultural inheritance and ideas. “Interpretive Machines” takes a long view of how we got to now, from the history of manuscripts, books, and print media to the opportunities for innovation in the digital present. It argues that 1) then and now, our technologies for sharing text, image, and data crucially shape the ideas which they convey, and 2) these contexts can help students plan and execute new mechanisms for communication in the present. The course’s modules offer critical frameworks of background readings and discussions, a lab-like experience with the materials or skills involved, and applied projects for students to experiment with and study. “Interpretive Machines” aims to reward students moving into a variety of disciplines and programs. The course seeks to marry the critical insights of the humanities with the design-and-build impulses of engineering, blending NC State’s “Think and Do” motto into a discovery experience for first-year students. The course also provides a framework for critical and creative thinking as part of NC State University’s QEP program called “TH!NK.” These standards and behaviors of critical + creative thinking, useful in every academic context, are built into the course’s program of activities, many of which are also designed to help you reflect on these very skills (i.e. metacognition). Students will become adept at using the intellectual standards for critical + creative thinking in evaluating the work of others as well as proposing, analyzing, and arguing research questions related to this course’s content.

Original Instructor: Paul Fyfe
Taught at North Carolina State University in Fall 2015
discipline: English, Epistemology, Engineering
conceptual difficulty: 2 technical difficulty: 3
Course Summary:

In the last ten years, the strange quasi-disciplinary formation known as DH or Digital Humanities has renewed the struggle over methods in literary studies. Analyses of digitized texts using computer-assisted techniques promise to transform the kinds of evidence, the methods of interpretation, and the modes of argument which matter to literary scholarship. Data is now a subject of energetic debate in literary studies: what constitutes literary data, and how should it be analyzed and interpreted? How might aggregation and quantification produce new knowledge in literary scholarship? What methods are most appropriate for grappling with the enormous, and enormously messy, world of digitized literary texts and data about literature? This course pursues two aims in parallel: to engage with the history and current practice of literary data analysis, and to introduce the foundational skills of literary data analysis in the R programming language. Class time will be divided between seminar and practical instruction. The seminar discussions trace theoretical debates about literary data from structuralism and scientific bibliography, to experiments in computational stylistics, to contemporary scholarly controversies in and around DH. The practicum surveys the fundamentals of programming and data manipulation, with an introduction to selected numerical techniques and data visualizations. Short homework exercises supplement the in-class instruction, with an emphasis on handling actual literary data of various kinds. There are two major assignments. A short position paper on a theoretical question about literary data and DH is due at midterm. The final assignment is to plan, carry out, and report on a smallscale project in literary data analysis. This project is to be undertaken in small groups; the report will detail methods and interpretations together with code and data. No special technical expertise of any kind is expected; instruction begins from first principles. However, the work of programming does require willingness to experiment, patience in the face of frustration, and the nerve to ask for help as often as needed. Bring your own laptop to class, if you have one; loaner laptops will also be available for in-class workshops. MacOS X and Linux are the preferred operating systems for work in the course, but Windows will be accommodated as well.

Original Instructor: Andrew Goldstone
Taught at Rutgers University in Spring 2015
discipline: English
conceptual difficulty: 2 technical difficulty: 2

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