Fall 2022 Undergraduate English Courses

359:207 Data and Culture

01  CAC   MTH2   07946   GOLDSTONE/ MCGILL   AB-4450


The digitization of wide swaths of the print record has opened up new challenges and opportunities for researchers in the humanities. This course introduces students to some of the key techniques used by humanities scholars to organize, manipulate, and analyze digital sources—attending both to longstanding scholarly institutions and practices that shape our understanding of digital texts (critical editions, brick-and-mortar archives, and quantitative methods within social, political, and cultural history) and to new methods for studying texts, cultural geography, and relations between and among producers and consumers of culture.

Students who complete this course will develop facility in the use of digital tools for the representation, curation, and analysis of digital texts, including TEI markup, Omeka (a publishing platform for digital collections), network and mapping tools, and data visualization software. In each case, however, we will place these relatively new tools within a longer history of humanistic inquiry and will ask: what insights can these tools provide, and what questions (and texts) do they marginalize or occlude? Our aim throughout is to examine how digitization and data science have changed the questions that humanists can ask of their sources. What does it mean to think of culture as data? What new histories do these tools and methods help us uncover? In what ways has digitization helped and hindered the ability of humanities disciplines such as history, literary studies, and art history to provide an understanding of the past that can speak to urgent questions in the present moment?

Requirements include two short papers and a final project which may be a digital project (data analysis, digital exhibit, etc.) or an essay.

This course fulfills the CCO-2 and AHp Core Curriculum requirements. It is also a Domain class for the Data Science certificate and minor.