Introduction to Digital Humanities
Foundations and Futures

Spring 2020

Course Logistics

Class Meetings: Tuesday and Thursday 1:30-2:50pm

Location: Center for Digital Humanities, Firestone Library

Instructor: Dr. Zoe LeBlanc


Office Hours: Tuesday 4pm-5pm, Wednesday 9am-10am in the Center for Digital Humanities, and by appointment

Course Website:

Course Overview

How are scholars in the humanities engaging with this new digital age? What can historians or philosophers do with data and code that they could not achieve in the past? How do we further the richness of humanities research with computational methods? How do we also critique and meaningfully engage with these digital technologies? What will the future of humanities research look like and how do we build it? All these questions and more will be explored in this introduction to digital humanities - a course that will explore both the foundations and futures of this new field at the intersection of humanities research and digital methods.

This course will survey readings on the many origins of digital humanities, the debates to define this field, and the practices of selected subfields in digital humanities research, helping us consider the many meanings of digital humanities, as well as some of the new directions in this field. This course is also about doing digital humanities research. Working together in small groups, we will experience the process of digital humanities - from initial humanistic question to collecting data to analyzing and communicating results. To this end, we will learn the foundations of coding, the web, and exploratory data analysis and visualization. Through weekly assignments and projects, we will debate larger issues in digital humanities, including data ethics and privacy, sustainability and curation of digital projects, the possibilities and limitations of computational methods, how DH relates to other disciplines, and how DH is part of global conversations about data and society.

Learning Objectives and Outcomes

  • Introduction to digital humanities as a field. Through in class discussions, readings, and assignments, this course will provide an overview of the history, debates, and current trends in the field. It will also highlight influential projects and selected subdisciplines in the field.
  • Introduction to digital humanities as a praxis. Through learning coding, data analysis, and project management, this course will provide a foundation for how to make digital humanities projects, as well as some of the debates over how to maintain and evaluate digital humanities scholarship.

What comes after this course? Much of what you do with this course depends on your interests but at the very least you will be well equipped to continue undertaking substantive digital research in the humanities. You will also be able to transfer some of what you will learn in this course to study in data journalism or computational social science. Ideally, I hope that each of you continues to work on your final DH project and share your research long after the course ends.

Draft Syllabus available here on google docs for annotating.

Getting started with Slack.


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