Introduction to Digital Humanities

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MAPH 33800/33900

This two-quarter course sequence will introduce students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences to the basics of computing and statistics, and to the various ways in which computers (i.e., digital devices of all kinds) can be used as tools for scholarly research and as media for creative expression. In addition, and of equal importance, students are introduced to the ways in which scholars reflect upon, and discuss critically, the cultural and social contexts and effects of digital technology from diverse philosophical perspectives.

The course is organized around four main themes: (1) the digital representation of knowledge; (2) automated analysis of cultural and historical data; (3) digital media of creative expression; and (4) the cultural and social contexts and effects of digital technology. Within each theme, we will provide explanations of computing concepts and the practices involved in creating and using software, and we will discuss theoretical issues raised by these practices.

In the Autumn Quarter, students will engage with the course themes through relevant readings, lectures, and demonstrations by practicing digital humanists on campus. This quarter is meant to provide students with an introduction to ongoing debates in the field and with many examples of cutting edge work. In the Winter Quarter, students will be introduced to the basics of computer programming using the R programming language, with an emphasis on applications related to computing in the humanities. Topics covered include database construction and design, statistical interpretation, text analysis, network analysis, geo-spatial analysis, and image analysis.

The courses in this sequence are administered via UChicago’s Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH) and they are required for MAPH students who elect to take the Option in Digital Humanities. However, they are open to all UChicago graduate and undergraduate students in any department or school and are intended for anyone who is interested in digital humanities. No prior knowledge of computing is required or assumed. No background in mathematics beyond the high school level is required.