Digital Humanities


This track allows students to focus on the ways in which technology can assist in the analysis and understanding of literature and textual information.

Course options with computational/digital focus:

CDT 30300 Digital Humanities (ENGL 40958) taught by Matthew Wilkens (NOT OFFERED AT THIS TIME)
Approaches to texts as digital and computable objects. Includes elements of media theory, archival and text technologies, and computational methods of literary analysis. No previous technical expertise required. The course will introduce students to thinking about literary texts as media objects and to the special problems involved in studying the millions of books that have been written and digitized in recent years. Students will use existing computational tools to analyze large collections of digital texts, culminating in a group project that makes an original contribution to literary scholarship. No prerequisites.

CDT 30310 Topics in Quantitative Literary Studies (new course to be offered in ENGL) taught by Matthew Wilkens (NOT OFFERED AT THIS TIME)
An advanced seminar in quantitative and computational literary analysis. Topics vary, but generally include aspects of natural language processing, text mining, machine learning, and related applications relevant to the quantitative analysis of large bodies of text. Extensive readings in recent research from the relevant journals. Culminates in a group project producing a substantial piece of computationally assisted humanities research. Prerequisite: CSE 10101 or equivalent introduction to programming; eligibility to enroll in advanced courses in at least one humanities discipline.

CDT 30330 Introduction to Digital History taught by Jeff Bain-Conkin (SPRING)
Technological tools increasingly provide historians new means of accessing, organizing, analyzing, and disseminating scholarly research.  This course introduces students to the practice of digital history—the practices and principles by which historians engage new media conventions.  Though primarily a hands-on class, readings on theories and methods as well as the consequent discussions make substantial components of the course.  Students will read about and evaluate digital examples as well as produce major digital history projects.  Every element of project management (data collection, organization, analysis, and presentation) will receive attention.  Technological knowledge is not required to take this course though general computer literacy would benefit students.

CDT 30340 History of San Francisco taught by Lindsey Passenger Wieck (FALL)
Gold miners & dreams of riches, hippies & drugs, the Castro & Harvey Milk ? popular images of San Francisco are colorful and controversial. In this course, we?ll explore topics like these to trace San Francisco?s adventurous and provocative history. We will also use primary sources including oral history, art, film, newspaper articles, and photographs to examine the rise of a Latino community in the Mission District. As we construct a case study of the Mission, we will investigate the role of radical politics, racial identity, and art and culture in San Francisco neighborhoods. Emphasizing digital history and writing for a public audience, this course will ask students to research and write like historians, producing historical content to share online about the history of San Francisco.

CDT 30350 20th C. American Borderlands taught by Lindsey Passenger Wieck (FALL)
Security is a double-edged sword: While a fence sure protects the fenced; it also imprisons the protected. Mokokoma Mokhonoana. Debates about borders and borderlands in the 20th century have focused on the U.S. restrictions of the movement of people and goods through these regions. Using novels, histories, first-hand accounts, art, film, and digital sources, we will trace the recent history, politics and culture of America?s borderlands, exploring topics like racial violence, immigration, smuggling, tourism, and cultural exchange. Not only examining the contentious US-Mexico border region, but also the US-Canada, Pacific Coast, and Native American borderlands regions, this course will explore how our nation has defined ideas of borders and belonging in the 20th century. Emphasizing digital history and writing for a public audience, this course will ask students to research and write like historians, producing historical content to share online about 20th century U.S. borderlands.

CDT 30360 Introduction to Digital Humanities taught by Dan Sinykin (Spring)
Can computers help us read better? What would it mean to read distantly rather than closely? How is big data challenging traditional modes of study in the humanities? The emergent field of digital humanities asks these questions, and others like them. This course offers an overview of the field, including current practices that might include computational analysis, digital mapping, information visualization, and the production of digital exhibits. Students from all disciplinary backgrounds are welcome. The course will culminate with students producing a DH project on a topic of their choosing. No programming experience required.

Course options without computational/digital focus (only one is allowed):

CDT 30320 Technologies of the American Novel (ENGL 30000 level) taught by Kate Marshall (NOT OFFERED AT THIS TIME)
In this course, we will consider the intertwined histories of the American novel and technology, and ask what this intersection has to tell us about the varieties of modernity emerging in American culture from the turn of the twentieth century to the present day. From media devices such as wireless transmitters, printing presses, and computers to highway and underground transit systems, or from robotics to movement machines such as elevators and escalators, technologies work as the settings for novelistic action, the agents of literary production, and the topics through which novels ask big questions about the place of the human in an increasingly mechanized world.

In novels by Henry James, Theodore Dreiser, Flannery O’Connor, James Baldwin, Philip K. Dick, Patricia Highsmith, Colson Whitehead and Nicholson Baker, we will bring these technologies, often invisible because of their ubiquity, to the surface, and read their cultural histories alongside the literary texts. Students will be asked to complete an intellectual autobiography, one short close-reading paper and two mid-length papers, as well as short writing assignments related to the course reading. Active participation in class discussions and heightened awareness of the technologies mediating everyday life are a must.