Spring 2018

digital detectives: detective literature under a digital macroscope

This course will teach students how to use digital humanities tools to study a variety of late nineteenth and early twentieth century detective novels and short stories. Students in the course will read many cannonical detective works, including Poe’s Auguste Dupin, Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, and Christie’s Hercule Poirot. We will use digital tools to analyze their literary content and historical context. The course will introduce students to databases and online resources that contain contemporary materials and cover several advanced text-mining and visualization techniques. By the conclusion of the course, students will have acquired skills that will allow them to design projects that process, animate, map, and visualize a large corpus of texts.

The course is conceived of as a continuation of the Hacking the Humanities course offered in the Fall semester, but is focused more narrowly on how someone can apply various digital tools to a particular area of interest (in this case, detective fiction).  While we recommend that you have taken the Hacking the Humanities course (because we will work with some tools that are difficult to use with no computational background), it is not required.


Special Topics

The second special topics class is the same as the previous version (described below).

Fall 2017

Hacking the Humanities

This is a revamped version of my "Hacking the Humanities" course, which I am teaching at Leiden University this coming fall. Classes begin with a lecture covering the theoretical and practical materials and are followed by a practicum in which students apply the techniques discussed.

The official course description is as follows (you can also view it on the Leiden eProspectus website):

This introductory course in the digital humanities will introduce students in all humanities disciplines to computer-aided research methodologies. While this course is focused largely on methodology, it will also engage with theoretical debates within the digital humanities. Students will learn how to use the programming language Python, and as well as other tools, to answer a variety of questions in literary and historical studies. After an introduction to Python, students will learn the basics of natural language processing and text-mining. They will learn how to use MALLET, common topic modeling software, and how to use this data to create visualizations with Processing. Students will also learn to use GIS and network analysis software to visualize data they have acquired. No programming knowledge or technical expertise is assumed.

Course materials will be distributed via GitHub and Blackboard.


Special Topics

The official course description is as follows (you can also view it on the Leiden eProspectus website):

In this course students will deepen their understanding of core problems in digital humanities and gain further experience in one or more of the methodologies learned in the core courses through the development of a digital project of their own choosing. Students will meet with an advisor to develop their projects and as a group to comment on each other’s work.


Spring 2016

Digital Detectives: Sherlock Holmes

This course is an introduction to the digital humanities through the lens of the Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories. It will provide students with a wide-ranging introduction to digital research and analytic tools. We will read a large portion of the Sherlock Holmes canon. We will also read secondary literature on the Digital Humanities, Doyle’s stories, as well as the history of late nineteenth and early twentieth century London.

We cover a number of digital tools and methods, which we will use to analyze the Holmes stories. These include mapping, social network analysis, databases, timelines, 3D modeling, game-making, and basic textual analysis.

Syllabus - (edited syllabus for Spring 2018 will be available soon).

Fall 2015

Hacking the Humanities: Programming and Analysis

This course provides advanced undergraduates and graduate students with an introduction to the digital humanities. It builds a firm foundation of technical skills and introduces students to the basic questions in the field. Although we will engage with theoretical work on the digital humanities and read secondary materials, this is primarily a methods course. While a basic familiarity with computers is recommended, students will not need to have any prior programming or command line experience.

Name credits for this course go to Robin Fleming and her former student Austin Mason. My first choice of names was "Programming and Analysis for Literary and Historical Studies." Apparently I am not a good salesperson.