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on August 29, 2013 at 9:23:53 pm
 

Digital Projects Collage

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 and central topics and controversies.  It also encourages students to develop resources, 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 field and its relation to the humanities in general; the logic of text encoding (with some attention to the analogous logic of 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) and "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 emphasizing ideas and technology.  Far-reaching ideas relevant to both the 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?"

 

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."  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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