Making the Humanities Digital

UNC School of Information and Library Science, INLS 890-186, Fall 2012

August 21

We’ll meet one another, talk about the plan for the class, and discuss how the digital humanities are being represented in the media

To read before this meeting:

  1. Hopkins, Curt. “Future U: Rise of the Digital Humanities.” Ars Technica, June 17, 2012.
  2. Powers, Richard. “Enquire Within Upon Everything.” In Switching Codes, edited by Thomas Bartscherer and Roderick Coover, 307–313. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011. PDF.

August 28
The Humanities: Why Bother?

Before we try to figure out what the digital humanities are, maybe we should start with the more basic question of what the humanities are. The first set of readings—Crane, Frye, Williams, Bruner, and Sennett—all grapple with the problem of defining the humanities and their relationship to the sciences.

Despite the difficulties of defining what the humanities are, there seems to be widespread agreement that they are “in crisis.” The second set of readings—Dames, Burke, Bogost, and Davidson—probe the nature of this crisis and suggest possible solutions, of which “the digital humanities” is one. (Note that these readings are much shorter than the ones above.)

To read before this meeting:

  1. Crane, Ronald. “The Idea of the Humanities.” In The Idea of the Humanities, and Other Essays Critical and Historical, 3–15. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967. PDF.
  2. Frye, Northrop. “Expanding Eyes.” Critical Inquiry 2, no. 2 (1975): 199–216.
  3. Williams, Bernard. “Philosophy as a Humanistic Discipline.” Philosophy 75, no. 04 (2000): 477–496.
  4. Bruner, Jerome. “Possible Castles.” In Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, 44–54. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1986. PDF.
  5. Sennett, Richard. “Humanism.” The Hedgehog Review 13, no. 2 (2011).
  6. Dames, Nicholas. “Why Bother?” n+1, no. 11 (April 13, 2011).
  7. Burke, Timothy. “Oh the Humanities.” Easily Distracted, February 25, 2009.
  8. Bogost, Ian. “Beyond the Elbow-Patched Playground, Part I: The Humanities in Public”, August 23, 2011.
  9. Davidson, Cathy N., and David Theo Goldberg. “A Manifesto for the Humanities in a Technological Age.” The Chronicle of Higher Education (n.d.): February 13, 2004.
  10. “Duke to Overhaul Humanities.” Duke Today, June 28, 2011.
  11. “University to Create Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative.” University Gazette, n.d., 2012-07-10 edition.

September 4
Historical Context

The digital humanities, though often promoted as the “new new thing,” are at least a half-century old. We’ll spend the first half of class discussing the history of the digital humanities.

During the second half, we’ll shift into “design thinking” mode, discuss the Fallman and Sengers et al. papers, and start envisioning our projects.

To read before this meeting:

  1. Schreibman, Susan, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth, eds. A Companion to Digital Humanities. Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.
    Reading tips

    Read “The History of Humanities Computing” (Hockney) and at least one of the other discipline-specific historical overviews in Part I (archaeology, art history, classics, history, lexicography, linguistics, literary studies, music, multimedia, performing arts, and philosophy/religion).

  2. Lieb, Irwin C. “The ACLS program for computer studies in the humanities: Notes on computers and the humanities.” Computers and the Humanities 1 (September 1966).
  3. Brewster, Kingman, Jr., Jacques Barzun, Robert P. Abelson, and Elting E. Morison. “A Panel Discussion.” In Computers for the Humanities?, 145–158. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965. PDF.
  4. Fallman, Daniel. “Design-oriented human-computer interaction.” 225. ACM Press, 2003.
  5. Sengers, Phoebe, Kirsten Boehner, Shay David, and Joseph “Jofish” Kaye. “Reflective design.” 49. ACM Press, 2005.

September 11
Ryan at HTRC UnCamp

No class.

Preliminary Reflection due

September 18
Defining the Digital Humanities

What are the differences among “digital humanities,” “humanities computing,” “new media studies,” “rhetoric and technology,” etc. Are these differences that make a difference, or just symptoms of academic territory-marking? Is digital humanities mostly about tools and infrastructure? If so, what makes these “humanities” tools and infrastructure? Or is digital humanities more about new visions of what the humanities can or should be?

To read before this meeting:

  1. Gibbs, Fred. “Digital Humanities Definitions by Type.” Historyproef, September 5, 2011.
  2. Svensson, Patrik. “From Optical Fiber To Conceptual Cyberinfrastructure” 5, no. 1 (2011).
  3. Svensson, Patrik. “Envisioning the Digital Humanities” 6, no. 1 (2012).
  4. DiSalvo, Carl. “Design and the Construction of Publics.” Design Issues 25, no. 1 (2009): 48-63.

September 25
Gathering Evidence

Constructing Your Public due

During the first half of today’s class, we’ll talk about tools and strategies for doing research and discovering evidence in the humanities, and how digitization is opening new possibilities in this area. Don’t be dismayed by the number of readings—they are all blog posts except for the Guldi article, and you only need to read the first part of that.

During the second half, we’ll discuss your reflections on “constructing a public” for your project, Löwgren and Stolterman’s “use qualities,” and how to critique a digital humanities project.

To read before this meeting:

  1. Burke, Timothy. “How I Talk About Searching, Discovery and Research in Courses.” Easily Distracted, May 9, 2011.
  2. Guldi, Joanna. “The History of Walking and the Digital Turn: Stride and Lounge in London, 1808–1851.” The Journal of Modern History 84, no. 1 (March 1, 2012): 116–144.
    Reading tips

    Just read the first part, unless you have a particular interest in “gait-related cultural events.”

  3. Underwood, Ted. “For most literary scholars, text mining is going to be an exploratory tool.” The Stone and the Shell, August 15, 2011.
  4. O’Malley, Mike. “Evidence and Scarcity.” The Aporetic, October 2, 2010.
  5. Takats, Sean. “Evidence and Abundance.” The Quintessence of Ham, October 18, 2010.
  6. Löwgren, Jonas, and Erik Stolterman. “The Product and Its Use Qualities.” In Thoughtful Interaction Design, 101–140. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2004. PDF.

October 2
Text Encoding

One of the most venerable forms of digital humanities work is the preparation of scholarly digital editions through a process known as text encoding, and one of the clearest examples of a technology produced by the digital humanities (or humanities computing) community is the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), an XML language for describing written texts (broadly understood).

In addition to the readings below, I highly recommend attending Will Shaw’s presentation on TEI: What It Is, and Why You Should Care at Duke’s Perkins Library on Thursday, September 27 at 2PM.

You may also find it useful to browse some samples of TEI texts.

To read before this meeting:

  1. Hockey, Susan. “Text Encoding.” In Electronic Texts in the Humanities: Principles and Practice, 24–48. Oxford University Press, 2000.
  2. Liu, Alan. “Transcendental Data: Toward a Cultural History and Aesthetics of the New Encoded Discourse.” Critical Inquiry 31, no. 1 (September 1, 2004): 49–84.
  3. TEI Consortium. “About These Guidelines.” In P5: Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange, 2010.
    Reading tips

    An overview of and introduction to the TEI P5 guidelines. Also take a look at some of the other sections of the manual, just to get a sense of what TEI provides. For example, the tags for encoding verse structure, transcriptions of speech, or names, dates, people, and places.

  4. Walsh, John A. “Comic Book Markup Language: An Introduction and Rationale” 6, no. 1 (2012).
  5. Bardzell, Jeffrey, and Shaowen Bardzell. “Interaction criticism.” 2463. ACM Press, 2008.

October 9
Criticism in the Digital Humanities

Critique of an Existing Project due

Special guest: Alan Liu

We will meet in the IAH Incubator on the 2nd floor of Hyde Hall.

In addition to the readings below, you may wish to refer back to Bardzell and Bardzell’s “Interaction Criticism,” Löwgren and Stolterman’s “The Product and Its Use Qualities,” and DiSalvo’s “Design and the Construction of Publics” as you formulate your own critique of a digital humanities project.

To read before this meeting:

  1. Liu, Alan. “Where Is Cultural Criticism in the Digital Humanities?” In Debates in the Digital Humanities, edited by Matthew K. Gold, 490–509. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. PDF.
  2. Gibbs, Fred. “Critical Discourse in Digital Humanities.” Journal of Digital Humanities (March 9, 2012).
  3. Drucker, Johanna. “Humanistic Theory and Digital Scholarship.” In Debates in the Digital Humanities, edited by Matthew K. Gold, 85–95. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. PDF.

October 16
Distant Reading

To read before this meeting:

  1. Moretti, Franco. “Conjectures on World Literature.” New Left Review, no. 1 (January–February 2000): 54-68.
  2. Allison, Sarah, Ryan Heuser, Matthew Jockers, Franco Moretti, and Michael Witmore. Quantitative Formalism: an Experiment. Literary Lab Pamphlet Series. Stanford, CA: Stanford Literary Lab, 2011.
  3. Hayles, N. Katherine. “How We Read: Close, Hyper, Machine.” ADE Bulletin no. 150 (2010): 62–79.
    Reading tips

    In addition to or instead of this reading, you may watch this video of Hayles presenting it at Duquesne University.

October 23
Design Studio

Envisioning due

To read before this meeting:

  1. Pruitt, John, and Jonathan Grudin. “Personas.” In Proceedings of the 2003 conference on Designing for User Experiences, 1. ACM Press, 2003.
  2. Carrol, J. M.“Five reasons for scenario-based design.” In Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 1999. HICSS-32. Vol. 3. IEEE, 1999.
  3. Nielsen, Lene. “From user to character.” In Proceedings of the 4th conference on Designing Interactive Systems: processes, practices, methods, and techniques, 99. ACM Press, 2002.

October 30
Ryan at ASIS&T Annual Meeting

No class.

November 6
Design Studio

Strategizing due

To read before this meeting:

  1. Paton, Bec, and Kees Dorst. “Briefing and Reframing: A Situated Practice.” Design Studies 32, no. 6 (November 2011): 573–587.

November 13
Design Studio

Sketching due

To read before this meeting:

  1. Buxton, Bill. Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann, 2007. PDF.

November 20
Design Studio

Reflecting, Revisiting, Refining due

To read before this meeting:

  1. Wolf, Tracee Vetting, Jennifer A. Rode, Jeremy Sussman, and Wendy A. Kellogg. “Dispelling ‘design’ as the black art of CHI.” In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in computing systems, 521–530. CHI  ’06. New York, NY, USA: ACM, 2006.

November 27
Design Studio: Crit Sessions

Analysis & Critique due

Today the following projects will run their crit sessions:

  • Heidi
  • Tim
  • Diana
  • Lisbeth
  • Chelcie & Becky
  • Jane & Bendte
  • Megan

To read before this meeting:

  1. Tohidi, Maryam, William Buxton, Ronald Baecker, and Abigail Sellen. “User sketches: a quick, inexpensive, and effective way to elicit more reflective user feedback.” In Proceedings of the 4th Nordic conference on Human-computer interaction: changing roles, 105–114. NordiCHI  ’06. New York, NY, USA: ACM, 2006.

December 4
Design Studio: Crit Sessions

Today the following projects will run their crit sessions:

  • Kelly
  • Courtney
  • Sumayya
  • Emily
  • Michelle
  • Stephanie, Rachel, & Morgan
  • Amanda

December 13
Final Assignments Due