Courses

Digital Humanities Course Descriptions

Summer 2021

DH 530 Building Intersectional Feminist Archives (D. Verhoeven) M.T.W.R. 09:00- 11:50AM
This is an all hands-on deck, intensive course in which students will collaborate with each other and a community organization to create an online information archive. In this process we will explore the capabilities and limitations of standardized information practices and develop an alternative digital archive inspired by intersectional feminist principles. Both existing and innovative information tools and techniques will be studied and evaluated. Topics such as open data, information inequality, collections as data, vernacular ontologies, data sovereignty and serendipitous discovery will be interrogated. No prior technical expertise is required for this course.

Fall 2021

DH 500 Survey of Digital Humanities (G. Rockwell)
Monday 09:00- 11:50AM
This course will provide students with an overview of the discipline of Digital Humanities and its varied applications across a range of disciplines and domains of knowledge. The course is designed to enable students to situate their own research interests within the broader framework of Digital Humanities and to make informed choices about how they structure the rest of their program. The course is divided into three key areas: 1) debates, theories, and key concepts; 2) emblematic projects and organizations; and 3) tools of the trade. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to situate their own research interests within the larger context of the field, evaluate existing methodologies and projects, consider the ability of computer systems to represent knowledge, and analyze the impact of technology on cultural production.

All students take DH 500 in their first term of studies.

DH 510 Contemporary Media Theory (M. Litwack)
Wednesday 13:00- 15:50PM
For students with no background in media theory, this course will serve as an introduction to some of its key problematics and recent texts; for students interested in culture, society, philosophy, aesthetics, or politics, this course will offer you the opportunity to articulate your own work to, and test it against, questions of media and mediation; for all students, this seminar will provide an occasion to reflect upon and clarify your own protocols of reading and practices of critical thinking

DH 520 Python (H. Quamen)
Thursday 09:00- 11:50AM
This section of DH 520 is a good foundational course that will give students hands-on experience with Python, which has quickly become the scripting language of choice among Digital Humanists. Python skills are useful in a variety of DH contexts: building customized tools, collecting and cleaning research data, and using any of the freely available libraries and toolkits that range from text analysis to data visualization to machine learning. We'll spend the first half of the semester working on the basic components of the language: variables, conditionals, loops, functions, and objects. Then we'll spend some time understanding how to install and use those third-party Python libraries and toolkits. The course will end with a customized Python project of the student's choosing. No prior programming experience is necessary.

DH 530 Digital Games and Narrative (J. Laccetti)
Tuesday 12:30- 15:20PM

DH 900 Digital Humanities Practicum (S. Gouglas)
This course will provide students with an opportunity to complete a significant project in Digital Humanities that will serve as the capstone to their course-based degree. Students will initiate, design, and implement a project suitable to the discipline of Digital Humanities. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to situate their research interests within the larger context of the field, evaluate existing methodologies and projects, consider the ability of computer systems to represent knowledge, and analyze the impact of technology on cultural production. This course is available to course-based students only, to be completed in the final terms of their program.

 

Winter 2022

DH 510 Topics in Digital Theory and Culture (TBA)
Monday 13:00- 15:50PM

DH 520 Data Visualization with D3 (H. Quamen)
Wednesday 13:00- 15:50PM

DH 530 Feminist Approaches to Digital Info (D. Verhoeven)
Tuesday 13:00- 15:50PM

DH 900 Digital Humanities Practicum (S. Gouglas)
This course will provide students with an opportunity to complete a significant project in Digital Humanities that will serve as the capstone to their course-based degree. Students will initiate, design, and implement a project suitable to the discipline of Digital Humanities. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to situate their research interests within the larger context of the field, evaluate existing methodologies and projects, consider the ability of computer systems to represent knowledge, and analyze the impact of technology on cultural production. This course is available to course-based students only, to be completed in the final terms of their program.

 

Representative past courses

DH 500 Survey of Digital Humanities
This course will provide students with an overview of the discipline of Digital Humanities and its varied applications across a range of disciplines and domains of knowledge. The course is designed to enable students to situate their own research interests within the broader framework of Digital Humanities and to make informed choices about how they structure the rest of their program. The course is divided into three key areas: 1) debates, theories, and key concepts; 2) emblematic projects and organizations; and 3) tools of the trade. Upon completion of the course, students will be able to situate their own research interests within the larger context of the field, evaluate existing methodologies and projects, consider the ability of computer systems to represent knowledge, and analyze the impact of technology on cultural production.

All students take DH 500 in their first term of studies.

 

DH 510 Topics in Digital Theory and Culture
These are variable content courses that focus on the theoretical and cultural implication of the digital.

Topics for 2020-21
DH 510 Contemporary Media Theory (M. Litwack)
For students with no background in media theory, this course will serve as an introduction to some of its key problematics and recent texts; for students interested in culture, society, philosophy, aesthetics, or politics, this course will offer you the opportunity to articulate your own work to, and test it against, questions of media and mediation; for all students, this seminar will provide an occasion to reflect upon and clarify your own protocols of reading and practices of critical thinking.

DH 510 Information Ethics (G. Rockwell)
This course is about ethical thinking in information-rich contexts. Students will explore different ethical theories and how they apply to moral problems in informatics. Topics may include the nature of information and the information society, common ethical theories applied to information contexts, privacy and censorship, the ethics of autonomous algorithms and artificial intelligence, professional ethics and research ethics. Activities in the course will include playing ethics games, student debates, designing an ethical framework, auditing a privacy statement, and developing your own ethical positions.

Topics for 2019-20
DH 510 History of Media Theory (J.Cohn)
What is a medium; what does it do; why should we care? This course will trace the history of attempts to answer these questions from Plato onward and the various debates that have spawned from them. In the process, we will read some of the canonical texts of media theory and discuss how they continue to haunt many of the most complex dilemmas today from how we can best create a more just society to how we can best care for our planet. For the final project, students will be able to either write a paper or create a creative and critical program/piece that directly addresses an issue from the course.

DH 510 Digital Fiction (A. Ensslin)
The course offers a survey of the rich and burgeoning field of digital fiction from hypertext to literary videogames. We start from a broad narratological approach, looking at the ways in which studying digital fictions may help us expand transmedial, cognitive and unnatural narratologies in particular. Digital fictions are often multilinear and multi-variant, as Ryan (2004) puts it: they can be read and played in multiple forms for multiple and often contradictory meanings. As works of electronic literature, they experiment with multimodality, agency, play, authorship, materiality, code, and (post) digitality; they position us as reader-players between virtual and actual worlds, immersing us into their storyworlds while at the same time making us step back and reflect upon our roles as media pro-sumers. Furthermore, they critically engage with key concepts of culture, such as gender, the body, space, migration, and postcolonialism, which will form another key element of the syllabus.

Topics for 2018-19
DH 510 Cultural Representation of Artificial Intelligence (M. Engel)
Recent advances in AI technology have brought it (whatever "it" is) to the fore of our cultural imagination. This course looks to trace the ways that AI has been represented and made meaningful in a variety of media and genres, from novel, to film, to popular journalism. The goal is to unpack the complex relationship between technological innovation and cultural representation. How significant an influence do the anxieties and desires of our creative outputs have on the development of actual technologies?

DH 510 Information Ethics (G. Rockwell)
The ethical use of information has become increasingly important in this age of social media. This course will ask what information is, discuss current issues in data ethics, look at codes of ethics, and introduce selected frameworks like the ethics of care that are used to help decision making. Students will be asked to develop case studies, to present theories in class, and to apply ethical theory to cases.

 

DH 520 Topics in Technical Concepts and Approaches
These are variable content courses that focus on technical skills

Topics for 2018-19
DH 520 Python (H. Quamen)
This section of DH 520 is a good foundational course that will give students hands-on experience with Python, which has quickly become the scripting language of choice among Digital Humanists. Python skills are useful in a variety of DH contexts: building customized tools, collecting and cleaning research data, and using any of the freely available libraries and toolkits that range from text analysis to data visualization to machine learning. We'll spend the first half of the semester working on the basic components of the language: variables, conditionals, loops, functions, and objects. Then we'll spend some time understanding how to install and use those third-party Python libraries and toolkits. The course will end with a customized Python project of the student's choosing. No prior programming experience is necessary.

DH 520 Game Design (M. Johnson)
This course will teach game design across four different media - paper games, card games, board games, and digital games - with a focus on the commonalities of making interactive experiences across these media. We will begin with a number of conceptual questions about game design. These include how design should be affected by the intended audience of a game (and the concepts of "casual" and "hardcore"), the interplay of luck and skill (if relevant at all), the differences between singleplayer games, cooperative games, and competitive games, and the differences between simplicity and complexity and design. The course will then explore core game design principles through rapidly iterating on designing three kinds of games in class: paper games, board games, and card games. These will each develop elements of game design proficiency, and show how core game design principles can be applied in different media. For assessment the class will be assigned in groups to explore and develop a small game on one of three different game development platforms - Twine, GameMaker, and Unity - and then compare the benefits and drawbacks of each, reporting back to the class about the capacities of each and how game design is inevitably shaped by the tools and platforms at hand. The course will conclude by examining some practical concerns associated with game design that are rarely considered - managing scope, managing a team, building a game that will sell, etc - and how these factors come into play in constructing and finishing a digital game.

 

DH 530 Topics in Building in Context
These are variable content courses that bridge the technical and the theoretical in order to build DH projects in an integrated way. The technical is understood through the lens of the theoretical and creative, while the theoretical and creative is viewed through the lens of the technical.

Topics for 2020-21
DH 530 Building Intersectional Feminist Archives (D. Verhoeven)
This is an all hands-on deck, intensive course in which students will collaborate with each other and a community organization to create an online information archive. In this process we will explore the capabilities and limitations of standardized information practices and develop an alternative digital archive inspired by intersectional feminist principles. Both existing and innovative information tools and techniques will be studied and evaluated. Topics such as open data, information inequality, collections as data, vernacular ontologies, data sovereignty and serendipitous discovery will be interrogated. No prior technical expertise is required for this course.

DH 530 Video Games Across Cultures (A. Ensslin)
This course introduces students to videogames as objects of cultural studies and vehicles for developing intercultural understanding and competence. We will examine how games communicate cultural meanings and how pedagogical elements are built into the design of dedicated serious games for intercultural learning; we will engage with theories of critical play and postcolonial game analysis with the goal to develop the critical tools to analyze and evaluate videogames with respect to their appropriation and stereotyping of foreign cultures and nations. At the same time, we will examine the economic dictates and constraints underlying commercial game design, that inform cultural appropriation and stereotyping. We will engage with regional and ethnic game studies by studying a range of (mostly independent) videogames from and about different regional and ethnic communities, including indigenous games. We will examine how these games communicate historical, social and cultural values, issues and concerns, and how they might contribute to the decolonizing of game design and game studies. Through a variety of critical and creative assignments and activities, we will explore and familiarize themselves with a diversity of social roles that can help us develop an educated, critical, interculturally literate attitude towards gameplay and game design. These roles will include for example the critical player, the educational designer, the cultural expert, and the interactive story builder.

DH 530 Data, Power, and Feminism (D. Verhoeven)
This course proceeds from the premise that data does more than describe. It can also be used to diagnose and intervene. In this course, we will explore the capacity of data to propose and inspire social change. Using real world examples, we will work collaboratively with data visualization tools and techniques to understand the capabilities and limitations of these approaches. No prior technical expertise is required for this course

Topics for 2019-20
DH 530 Big Data and Text Analysis (G.Rockwell)
The web is big data for the study of contemporary culture and society. It is being scraped and mined by governments, commercial interests and academics to identify trends, to create new value, for surveillance and to study recent history. In this course we are going to look at the hype and opportunities around big data through the lens of how the web can be treated as evidence. We are going to look at the definitions, projects, and the ethics of big data with special attention to how the web and social media are being used for research, surveillance, governance, and commerce. Students will be trained in how to use web scraping tools and analytical environments for the purpose of analyzing web cultures. The idea is to think through the big data revolution and claims made about data science by doing it. Students don't need to have a programming background to take this course, but you should be prepared to use complex research tools like Gephi, and Voyant as needed. Training on these tools and others will be provided as part of the course.

DH 530 Data, Power, and Feminism (D. Verhoeven)
This course proceeds from the premise that data does more than describe. It can also be used to diagnose and intervene. In this course, we will explore the capacity of data to propose and inspire social change. Using real world examples, we will work collaboratively with data visualization tools and techniques to understand the capabilities and limitations of these approaches. No prior technical expertise is required for this course

Topics for 2018-19
DH 530 Data Visualization (G. Rockwell)
This course is about interpreting and designing visualizations. The course will cover different types of data, different types of visualizations and the history of visualization. Students will learn how to use selected tools to visualize structured and unstructured data and then learn to program visualizations in Python. Students will be expected to both interpret and design visualizations.

DH 530 Digital Mapping (M. Engel) 
This course examines the complex and contradictory relationship between "place" and "space." Space is a set of coordinates, an area that is delimited by objective data: latitude and longitude, topography, the location of rivers and roads and bridges. Place, on the other hand, is an area composed of subjective data: the stories of its history, the experiences of its residents, the values that we inscribe in it, and the uses to which we put it. This course will bring the concepts of "space" and "place" together and challenge students to analyze and to build "maps," broadly conceived, that can bridge that divide.

 

This is a representative sample of past courses:

HUCO 617 Section B2: Advanced Web Scripting (H. Quamen)
Advanced Web Scripting, continues the concepts explored in Huco 520. The first half of the semester will be dedicated to applying the concepts of object-oriented programming to what we already know about PHP. Object-oriented ideas are found in almost every programming language (Python, Ruby, Java, Perl, PHP, etc.). One part of your work for the semester, then, will be to write some object-oriented PHP. In the second half of the semester, we'll learn about JavaScript, a language that runs in all modern web browsers. JavaScript facilitates user interactivity, so we'll learn the dynamics of event-driven programming, how JavaScript manipulates HTML on the-fly (via the tree-like structure called the Document Object Model or DOM) and we'll learn about two interesting JavaScript implementations: Ajax ("Asynchronous JavaScript and XML") and the impressive D3 library ("Data-Driven Documents"), which is a popular means of incorporating interactive data visualization into websites. Along the way, we'll learn about the GitHub code repository, collaborative programming, the wonderful and magical string pattern-matching templates known as regular expressions, a little bit about web scrapers, and maybe even something about the weather.

As in HUCO 520, your project in this class will be to build something that could be one project that uses both object-oriented PHP and JavaScript, or you could build two projects (one that uses PHP and one that uses JavaScript). You can decide if you want to integrate those two components into one website or not. But the general idea is that you'll write object-oriented PHP on the server-side and will write some JavaScript interactivity on the browser side. Some project ideas are listed at the bottom of the syllabus.

Big Data: The Web as Evidence (HUCO 617: Topics in Humanities Computing)
Instructor: Prof. G. Rockwell
The web is big data for the study of contemporary culture and society. It is being scraped and mined by governments, commercial interests and academics to identify trends, to create new value, for surveillance and to study recent history. In this course we are going to look at the hype and opportunities around big data through the lens of how the web can be treated as evidence. We are going to look at the definitions, projects, and the ethics of big data with special attention to how the web and social media are being used for research, surveillance, governance, and commerce. Students will be trained in how to use web scraping tools and analytical environments for the purpose of analyzing web cultures. The idea is to think through the big data revolution and claims made about data science by doing it. Students don't need to have a programming background to take this course, but you should be prepared to use complex research tools like Archive-It, Gephi, Mallet, and Voyant as needed. Training on these tools and others will be provided as part of the course.