Digital Humanities for the History of the Book

Current faculty: Catherine DeRose

Course Description: This course will introduce you to digital humanities methods, workflows, and use cases. We will begin by examining the process by which written, printed, and visual materials become digital data, and will consider what is gained and lost along the way: what kinds of claims can we make about the “data” as a result of how it was transformed? What questions can we ask when we increase our scale of study to hundreds or thousands of texts? 

Digital humanities is an expansive, rapidly developing area of research. This course is designed to give you a foundation, introducing you to approaches and resources you can continue to draw on after the week concludes. You will gain hands-on experience working with popular open-source tools used by digital humanities practitioners. You will also learn best practices for developing your own digital humanities projects, from curating a dataset and identifying a suitable method of analysis to creating effective and compelling data visualizations you can share.

The course is intended for students, faculty, and library staff who are interested in taking on or supporting digital humanities projects, or who are just looking for an introduction to the field. No prior programming experience or existing project is required.

Provided datasets will draw heavily on literary texts with written, visual, network, and spatial components. There will also be open “lab” sessions during which participants can begin creating their own datasets or can continue experimenting with the provided ones.

Topics with likely tools that will be covered include:

  • A brief history of the digital humanities
  • Data reconcilitation (OpenRefine)
  • Data visualization best practices (Tableau Public)
  • Natural Language Processing techniques (Unix Shell, Named Entity Recognition, Topic Modeling)
  • Network graphs (Gephi)
  • Georeferencing historical maps (Georeferencer)
  • Maps (ArcGIS Online)
  • Image computation (PixPlot)
  • Web publishing platforms for sharing textual, visual, audio, and spatial work (StoryMaps)
  • Project management (Trello)
  • Next steps for continuing with DH

Requirements: Participants must work from a computer (Windows or Mac) over which they have administrative control. Prior to the workshop, the instructor will send a list of software with installation instructions.

Year taught: 2021