Digital Methods for Humanists

See the Fall 2017 syllabus.

This course is a basic introduction to some of the tools now available to humanists — literary scholars, historians, philosophers, and kindred spirits in the social sciences — to do the kinds of things humanists have always done, but in new ways. As we go, we’ll try to get a sense of how these tools have given rise to a new kind of academic practice called “digital humanities,” but we’ll only glance at some of the theoretical and methodological debates that inform that practice. Mainly, we’ll just to try to get good at using the tools.

These days, we all rely heavily on computers and other “smart” devices, but most of us have little understanding of how these devices work. Up to a point, that’s just fine. But after a point, this ignorance can make us captive to interests that are only too happy to profit by selling us services that we could easily perform ourselves, in ways that restrict how we use them and lock up what we create with them; lead us to spend thousands of dollars on hardware with far more capacity than we’re able to make use of; and keep us from fully understanding the high-stakes issues that surround the future of privacy, creativity, and democratic participation in a computer-mediated society.

So this course is also an introduction to your computer. By the end of it, your relationship should be on a whole new footing. If all goes according to plan, you’ll not only be a better-equipped humanist, you’ll also be a better-equipped consumer and citizen.