Digital Humanities for the History of the Book

Course Information

Instructor: Catherine DeRose
Location: Online
Dates: July 31 – August 4, 2023
Tuition: $1200.00


This course introduces digital humanities methods by applying them to questions from literary studies and history. We will begin by examining the processes by which written and printed materials become digital, asking 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 curated or transformed? What questions can we ask when we increase our scale of study to hundreds or thousands of texts? Over the week, we’ll work closely with texts and their accompanying metadata to see what new information we might glean by incorporating digital tools into our practice.

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 finding collaborators, curating a dataset, and identifying a suitable method of analysis to creating effective and compelling data visualizations you can share.

Topics that will be covered include:

  • Introduction to digital humanities methods and theories
  • Data processing in OpenRefine and with optical character recognition software
  • Data visualizations in Tableau Public
  • Automatic extraction of person and place names with Named Entity Recognition
  • Network graphs in Gephi
  • Geographic maps in ArcGIS Online
  • Georeferencing historical maps with Georeferencer
  • Combining textual, visual, and spatial information in a StoryMaps web application
  • Scaffolding and managing a digital humanities project

This 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 is required. Sample data will be provided. 


Participants must have access to a laptop (Windows or Mac) on which they can install open source software. Prior to the workshop, the instructor will send a list of software with installation instructions.

This course will be taught remotely and will include a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities. The synchronous portion of each day will be divided into three components: 

  • Discussion — we’ll consider case studies and methods at a conceptual level, 
  • Workshop — we’ll carry out a method using a digital tool, 
  • Open lab — you’ll have the opportunity to develop your own projects or continue experimenting with the sample data. 

The asynchronous portion will consist of the following activities:

  • Readings that will help inform our discussions, 
  • Project reviews that will provide an opportunity for engaging with digital humanities work more closely, 
  • Hands-on practice exercises that will reinforce the workshop material.


2021, 2023


Completion of this course helps to meet requirements for one of the following certificate requirements:

  • 1 of 3 elective credit courses for Certificate in Rare Books and Manuscripts, or
  • 1 of 2 elective credit courses for Certificate in Librarianship, Activism, and Justice