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on July 2, 2013 at 11:58:09 pm


Digital Humanities
Introduction to the Field



Graduate Course - English 236 - Fall 2013

Instructor: Alan Liu

UC Santa Barbara

Thur 2:00 - 4:30 pm, South Hall 2509


In recent years, the digital humanities field ("DH") has reached a critical mass of participants, publications, conferences, institutional programs, mentions in 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, topics related to such work, and controversies in the field, and also situates DH relative to such adjacent areas as "new media studies" and "media archaeology."  Major topics include: definitions of and controversies about the digital humanities as "field"; the logic of text encoding and databases; methods of text analysis (including quantitative analysis, topic modeling, and social network analysis); "algorithmic criticism" and "deformance" theory; mapping and visualization; media archaeology (with some attention to book history research); and "critical digital humanities" (including controversies about the field's relation to "theory," "cultural criticism," "identity," etc.).


A key aspect of the course is that technical issues are discussed in light of their intellectual premises and implications; and vice versa.  No advanced technical skills are required.  Students are asked to learn hands-on about some technologies; and the final assignment asks students (individually or in teams) to prepare the detailed "prospectus and plans" for a digital project together with an individual interpretive essay explaining the implications.  The prospectus can, but is not required to, include trial demonstrations or experiments (e.g., a preliminary text analysis or visualization of part of a literary, media, historical, or other work).  (Due to the limitations of time in a quarter system, students are not asked to implement their projects, though they are of course encouraged to do so in future if it will advance work on their dissertation or other research.  This course thus reverses the emphases of the "Literature+" course that Alan Liu also sometimes teaches.  Whereas Literature+ includes a brief introduction to DH but centers on project building; this course provides a fuller introduction to the field and includes as a practicum only the planning activity for a project.)

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