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Schedule of Readings and Assignments for English 236 (Fall 2014)


This graduate course offered by Alan Liu in the UCSB English Department meets fall 2014, Tuesdays, 12:30 to 3:00 pm, in the department's Transcriptions Center, South Hall 2509.


Class 1 (Oct. 7) — Digital Humanities and the Humanities

          [Students are asked to do the readings for this class in advance of the course's first meeting]


  • Focal Question What kind of "human" subject do the digital humanities speak from, to, for?





Class 2 (Oct. 14) — State of the Field


  • Focal Question Where is digital humanities? (methodologically, institutionally, socially, geopolitically)


  • Focal Readings
[Some of the focal readings from class 1 will be reprised to complement the more professionally-oriented readings of class 2 about the "field."]



  • Practicum: Getting Started in DH Course "practicums" are hands-on, small-scale exercises that ask students to experiment at a beginner's level with the tools of the digital humanities. The goal is not technical mastery but learning enough about the technologies to think about, and through, their concepts and also to discover which tools might be used in a student's future research.  In many cases, experience gained in the practicums will feed directly into discussion of conceptual issues in class. (See Assignments: Practicums).


Class 3 (Oct. 21) — Text Encoding




Class 4 (Oct. 28) — Text Analysis (1): From Close Reading to Distant Reading

  • Focal Question What is the relation between mid-20th century "formalist" and recent "data-centric" approaches to humanistic knowledge?





Class 5 (Nov. 4) — Text Analysis (2): Topic Modeling

  • Focal Question For the humanities, what is the relationship between a "topic"? a "theme"? a "model"? and "meaning"?





Class 6 (Nov. 13: Special Day for Class: Thursday— Social Network Analysis
             (Class visit by Mark Algee-Hewitt and Ryan Heuser, Associate Directors for Research at the Stanford Literary Lab)






Class 7 (Nov. 18) — Digital Visualization & Mapping




Class 8 (Nov. 25) — Digital Time: Pastness, Archives, and Media Archaeology for the Digital Age

  • Focal Question How do past or present media technologies articulate different ideas of time?  For example, how do their processes or logics construct various senses of the "past" or of the "new"?





Class 9 (Dec. 2) — Critical Digital Humanities: Making It Different

  • Focal Question How do the digital humanities contribute to the humanities vision of interpretive and sociocultural "difference"?





Class 10 (Dec. 9) — Student Presentations of Project Prospectuses


  • Other Assignment Due Student mock project prospectuses (description of assignment) should be online by this date (please place a post or link for your prospectus in the folder for Project Prospectus on the Student Work page for this course.  For effective presentations, students may want to create other online resources or slideshow presentations. 



John Unsworth, "What’s 'Digital Humanities' and How Did It Get Here?"


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