Digital Humanities Approaches to Textual Objects

Th 6:00PM - 8:50PM / 352 Cathedral of Learning / CRN 30554

New digital tools and methods are changing the way scholars in the humanities read, research, and interpret text-based communicative forms. Digitization and optical character recognition (OCR) have made a preponderance of print materials web accessible, while new platforms have created a flood of text-based, born digital materials. This course engages critically with the epistemological implications of digital humanities text analysis, especially the impact of distant reading on contemporary literary studies. Topics for discussion will include how quantitative research structures (prejudices?) research questions, the interpretive limits of quantitative text analysis, the ethics of algorithmic inquiry, and how the emerging “cultural analytics” subfield engages power relations and historical and social constructions of identity.
The course will also attempt to prepare students to use digital humanities methods to pursue their own research questions by anchoring theoretical and methodological readings with a capstone, computational project that encourages students to bring their own disciplines’ text-based materials into their work for the course. To this end, we will work closely with the Python programming language to better understand the iterative processes and scholarly decisions one must make when writing code in the humanities. Students will not be evaluated by their programming skill; however, willingness to engage in hands-on work is essential. Scholarly readings will draw from multiple disciplines to backstop theoretical, methodological, and hands-on concerns.

Number of Credits


Matthew Lavin

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Course Category

Category D: Designated Courses

Course Year