Introduction to the Field
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In recent years, the digital humanities field ("DH") has reached a critical mass of participants, publications, conferences, institutional programs, 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 asks students to develop 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 and the relation of DH to the humanities in general; the logic of text encoding (with some attention to 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); "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 ideas and technology. Far-reaching ideas from both the human 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?" And the focal question for one of the last classes is "How can the digital humanities contribute to the humanities in helping human beings understand other ways of 'understanding' and of being 'human'?"
Assignments in the course are designed to train graduate students in the digital humanities (Practicums); immerse them in the digital-humanities research community (Follow DH Community on Twitter); develop their professional profile in their intended research field (Blog Posts on Your Field in its Relation to Digital Humanities); and incubate a detailed "mock project prospectus" for a digital-humanities project (Mock Project Prospectus). (Due to the constraints of a 10-week quarter, the project need not be implemented but could provide the basis for the student's future research and professional development.)