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HY 400-001/HY 500-001
Introduction to Digital Humanities
Course Information
Spring 2011 (CRN: 15517 – HY 400 – 001; CRN: 15518 – HY 500 – 001)

Welcome! This is an experimental site for classroom use. We may decide that it does not serve our needs and switch to another platform. I am expecting (even counting on) you to have suggestions on how to improve this site, so please join in!

Also, this course is student-centered and an active and collaborative learning environment. As such, this syllabus has been intentionally left open to allow us to add and change content based on the suggestions and needs of our class. In short, this means YOU! Please take an active role in our intellectual community by helping us shape this course.

This website is designed to serve as the cyberinfrastructure for a spring 2011 course in the History Department at the University of Alabama: HY 400-001/HY 500-001 “Introduction to Digital Humanities”.

This course explores the potential of digital technology for use in the study of history, literature, and the humanities in general. In spite of the fact that nearly all scholars now use computers for word-processing and communication, the application of new media and information technology to research questions in the humanities remains terra incognita. This course offers students an opportunity to directly reflect on and explore potential applications of digital technology to their research. Specifically, this course will cover three broad themes. First, we will seek to define “digital humanities” and investigate the theoretical and methodological issues in applying technology to humanistic research, including identifying the limits and constraints of technology. Second, we will study several current digital humanities projects (through readings and through guest sessions with the project directors) with an aim to identifying emerging trends, successful models, design values, and potential pitfalls. Lastly, over the course, students will develop a specific plan for implementing a digital element into their own research. In preparation, students will have the opportunity to learn new technical skills and tools.

No previous technical literacy is required, this course is open to students of all levels of interest in digital humanities. The course will primarily focus on the relationship of digital humanities research to the study of history and literature, but will also consider questions of interest to the humanities in general.

Please read this entire syllabus. Unless you ask for clarification, I will assume that you understand all of the assignments and procedures below. Feel free to use the comment features on this page to ask questions!

(N.B. This website is unofficial and provided for convenience only, the official copy of the syllabus for CRN: 15517 and CRN: 15518 is posted online through UAOPS at ua.edu).

Course Time:    Thursday 2:00-4:30 p.m. Course Location:  Location may vary due to schedule, but most course meetings will be held in  ten Hoor 109 Professor:     Dr. David A. Michelson Office Hours:    TBA & by appointment

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Common University Outcomes: At the conclusion of the course, you will… be able to recognize and identify key concepts related to digital humanities research and its utility for providing a broad perspective on the human condition. be able to critically discriminate between reliable and less reliable information. be familiar with scholarly and research methods. have developed effective written communication skills. have developed skills in working together in team activities. Co [...]

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Grades Your grade for the course will be calculated out of a possible 1000 points. Some points will be assigned by the professors through an assessment of the quaility of your writing. Some points will be earned through the successful completion of written assignments and class presentations. Please bear in mind that this course is a "W' designated course, meaning that one of the conditions for a passing grade is that students write coherent, logical, and carefully edited prose in a minimum of [...]

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This course will use 8 different types of assignments to help you develop yours skills as writer, collaborator, and researcher. 1. Reviews (350 points) A defining aspect of digital humanities scholarship is the organization and evaluation of knowledge. In this course you will learn to write scholarly reviews as a way to critically evaluate current scholarship. These reviews will be due at periodic points during the semester (as assigned on the first day of class). Four different types of [...]

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DUE DATE: April 21, 2011 Change in assignment. We will not do a peer review for this. Please turn it in final form on April 21, 2011.   For this review, please attend or watch online at least one session of an academic conference related to digital humanities research. We are fortunate in the fact that this semester UA is hosting two such conferences on campus! (The dates are 3/5/11 and 4/15-17/11 ). Details on the conference on April 15 are here: 2011 English Department Symp [...]

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Select one or more tools from the list compiled in class and write a review of the tool from the perspective of a prospective user. Take sufficient time to teach yourself the basics of using the tool so that you can teach our class how to use it as well. Please prepare a 15 minute teaching presentation of the tool. These presentations will be open to the interested public (i.e. other students and perhaps some faculty). Your review will follow these elements and work flow: Initial Pu [...]

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DUE DATE: April 14, 2011 Change in assignment. We will not do a peer review for this. Please turn it in final form on April 14, 2011. At the end of the semester write a brief review of the various physical computing devices you have used for your work in the course (computer lab equipment, laptop, ipad, kindle, etc). This review should outline and explain the reasons for your current work-flow as well as discuss your future plans. Since this review is due at the end of the semest [...]

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Select one or more project from the list compiled in class and write a review of the project paying attention both to its value for scholarship and its utility as a technical or organizational model for other similar projects. Take sufficient time to learn about the project so that you can demonstrate its best features and answer hypothetical questions about use. Your review will follow these elements and work flow: Initial Publication Peer Comment Public Presentation Peer Revi [...]

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As you become familiar with the methods of digital scholarship, you will be asked to test them out on a small scale using techniques such as visualization, creating a database, marking-up a text, or using datamining as an analysis tool. For ideas you may wish to consult the similar assignment created by Dan Cohen here. In addition to the raw data of your research and any visualizations, you should write up a 500 word paper presenting your process and what tasks remain. Deadlines: Tur [...]

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Required Reading As you read try to formulate an answer to the question "What are Digital Humanities?": “The Future of the Digital Humanities,” Interview with Brett Bobley Director of the Office of Digital Humanities, National Endowment for the Humanities http://www.hastac.org/forums/hastac-scholars-discussions/future-digital-humanities “How do you define Humanities Computing / Digital Humanities?” http://tapor.ualberta.ca/taporwiki/index.php/How_do_you_define_Humanities_Comp [...]

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Special notes: This class will meet in a different location! Please meet in Gorgas Library 109a (the new Alabama Digital Humanities Center). We will cover the following topics: Guest Lecture: 2:00-3:00 What is Digital Humanities by Thomas C. Wilson, Associate Dean for Library Technologies, University of Alabama Course Discussion on "What is Digital History? Guest Teaching Session: 3:45-4:30 on How to Query Digital Resources by Brett Spencer, Reference Libraria, UA Libraries At [...]

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Special Notes: This class session will be held ten Hoor 109. Guest Lecture 2:00 pm- 3:00 pm “Against Internet Triumphalism.” by Sharon O'Dair, Professor of English and Director of the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies Other Lecture Topics: Open Access and Scholarship, Digtial Humanities Theory Required Readings: Robert Darnton, “The Research Library in the Digital Age” (Harvard University Library, 2008), http://hul.harvard.edu/publications/Darnton_ResearchLi [...]

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Special Notes: This class session will be held in the Alabama Digital Humanities Center, Gorgas 109A. Guest Panel: 2:00 pm- 3:00 pm "Trends in the Digital Humanities" q&a with Jennifer Howard, Jeff Young, Marc Perry, technology reporters from The Chronicle of Higher Education Other Class Topics: Tool Reports and Project Reviews Required Readings: Watch and Listen: (Watch at least two of the four “Digital Humanities Sampler” presentations--about one hours worth.) htt [...]

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Special Notes: This class session will be held in ten Hoor 109. Guest Lecture: "Metadata Primer" by Steven MacCall, Associate Professor, School of Library and Information Sciences, University of Alabama “Metadata Primer” This presentation will be an introductory overview of metadata issues for the digital humanities scholar. Metadata, defined most simply as “data about data”, is the glue that binds a range of digital humanities projects together ranging from digital object reposi [...]

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Special Notes: This class session will be held in ten Hoor 109. (PLEASE NOTE THAT WE ARE IN TEN HOOR). Guest Presentations: 2:00-3:00 pm Brett Spencer, Reference Librarian, University Libraries will present on "Searching and the Deep Web." 3:45-4:30 pm Renee J. Raphael, Assistant Professor of History, University of Alabama and project collaborator will present on, “Diagrams, Figures and the Transformation of Astronomy, 1450–1650” a project she has worked on at Cambridge Universit [...]

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Special Notes: This class session will be held in This class session will be held in the Alabama Digital Humanities Center, Gorgas 109A. Guest Project Presentation: 2:00 pm- 3:00 pm Karen Smith-Yoshimura, Program Officer, OCLC Research will present on, “Networking Names” and "VIAF: Virtual International Authority File" a project she has worked on at OCLC. She will also discuss the following related projects Freebase and Social Networks and Archival Context. Other Class Topics: Tool R [...]

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Special Notes: This class session will be held in the Alabama Digital Humanities Center, Gorgas 109A. Guest Project Presentation: 2:00 pm- 3:00 pm Tom Elliott, Associate Director for Digital Programs and Senior Research Scholar, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University will present on two digital humanities projects related to the field of classics. Specifically Tom will present on Papyri.info a reference project that for the study of ancient papyrological document [...]

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Special Notes: This class session will be held in the Alabama Digital Humanities Center, Gorgas 109A. Guest Project Presentation: 2:00 pm- 3:00 pm Will Hanley, Assistant Professor of History, Florida State University will present on the issues of "authority" in digital scholarship and History and the blogosphere, with special reference to the Middle East (blogging in politically sensitive environments). Reading: Jim Giles, "Internet encyclopaedias go head to head," Nature 438 (15 Dec [...]

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Special Notes: This class session will be held in the Gorgas 109A. Guest Project Presentation: 2:00 pm- 3:00 pm  Anne Sarah Rubin, Associate Professor of History, The University of Maryland, Baltimore County will present on http://www.shermansmarch.org Other Class Topics: Special Event: Please come to the guest lecture  by Anne Rubin on Wednesday, March 23, 5 PM in Gorgas 205: A public lecture entitled: "Beyond Archives and Illustrations: New Directions in Digital History" [...]

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Special Notes: This class session will be held in the Gorgas 109A. Topic: Class this week will be a workshop. Please come with materials to work and we can assist each other! Please come prepared to discuss the your independent project and to brainstorm about our final reviews (of hardware and theory) and your final project (work plan). Required Readings: "Preserving Digital History" in Daniel Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig, Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting [...]

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Special Notes: This class session will be held in the Gorgas 109A. Guest Project Presentation: 2:00 pm- 2:50 pm Dr. Will Brockman, Google, will present on Ngram Viewer and Google Books . Dr. Brockman is a software engineer at Google, where (as a 20% project) he was the lead developer for the Ngram Viewer.  Prior to Google he worked in software application areas as diverse as DNA sequencing (Broad Institute) and radar (General Dynamics).  He earned a Ph.D. in mathematics at UC San Diego [...]

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N.B.: No class meeting this week. Instead do try to attend the symposium on corpus linguistics. Symposium: "Exploring the Boundaries and Applications of Corpus Linguistics" http://english.ua.edu/sym2011index.html Friday-Sunday        4/15-17/11 Assignment Due: Hardware Review (upload it to the wiki please).

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Class Meeting: Gorgas 109 A Agenda: Plan Digital Humanities Fest! Assignments Due: Digital Humanities Theory Review Final Project (extension possible until April 28).

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As members of the UA community will know, on April 27 a tornado devastated Tuscaloosa and the semester came to an abrupt end. For this reason, we had to cancel the Digital Humanities festival which was to be the culmination of our course. Fortunately, however, all of the students of our course survived the storm relatively unharmed (not without several close calls). We were grateful for this safety, though the semester did not end as we had planned. On an interesting digital note, one member [...]

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Digital Humanities Tools A Template for Software Reviews in the Field of Digital Humanities (Please feel free to suggest you own improvements!). Tool Name: Version Number and Release Date: Developer Website: Reviewed by: Review Date: Tags or Keywords: Summary of Review: (1-2 sentences) Review Narrative: (Roughly 300-500 words, see the suggested questions below for a way to organize your review). General Purpose of Tool: Ease of Use: Easy for Novices, Some Learn [...]

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Digital Humanities Tools Review of Zotero Tool Name: Zotero Version Number and Release Date: Version 2.0.9, October 13, 2010 Developer Website: www.zotero.org Reviewed by: David. A. Michelson Review Date: January 17, 2010 Tags or Keywords: bibliography, citation, social bookmarking, collaboration, archive Summary of Review: Zotero is a plugin for the Firefox browser designed to be an enhanced citation manager. In addition to its citation features, Zotero is useful for collabo [...]

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Digital Humanities Projects Reviews A Template for Project Reviews in the Field of Digital Humanities (Please feel free to suggest your own improvements!). Project or Publication Name: Website: Project Author, Editor, Creator, etc.: Reviewed by: Review Date: Tags or Keywords: Summary of Review: (1-2 sentences) Review Narrative: (Roughly 300-500 words, see the suggested questions below for a way to organize your review). General Goal of the Project: Ease of Use: Easy [...]

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Digital Humanities Sample Project Review Review of William G. Thomas III and Edward L. Ayers, "The Differences Slavery Made: A Close Analysis of Two American Communities," The American Historical Review, 108, no. 5 December 2003 http://www2.vcdh.virginia.edu/AHR/ (accessed 25 Jan. 2011); and of “Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War,” University of Virginia Library http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/, (accessed 25 Jan. 2011). Project or Publication: "The Differences S [...]

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Over the course of the semester, each student's primary focus should be on how he or she will integrate digital humanities methods and tools in future research, teaching, and service. Each student will submit a final project at the end of the course (of approximately 1000-1500 words) which outlines this long-term plan. For those students with an historical research topic in mind  you may wish to consult the similar assignment created by Dan Cohen here. Deadline: Due on 4/21/11 wi [...]

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