Lab and lecture sessions are numbered separately for each topic. Following the brief description of a session the following may be listed: Assignments (i.e. assessed exercises & associated things); and required Readings, recommended Reference materials and required Data, which are cited by section and number in the course Index.
Except as noted, all sessions take place in the Maughan Library. Monday lab sessions run from 10 AM to noon, in room LG.63, and Thursday lectures run from noon to 1 PM, in room LG.69. Remedial sessions will be arranged in the second week of first term for any who may require them.
Small changes to the material treated in each session may occur without prior notice, but rarely. Attendance at all sessions is mandatory. This calendar has a separate entry for every required session: any session that is added or moved to a different date is not formally required. Beware: our reading week and start and end of term may not be the same as in your home department.
Assignments are to be submitted in person to Bach Luu in the CCH office (Kay House, first floor), before 4 PM on the date given.
Subject matter of the course; the digital humanities, their relation to the home disciplines, their objectives. Contents of the course: major topics, critical thinking and research skills. Structure: lab and lecture sessions; tutorials; readings and reference materials; attendance; assessed exercises; the exam. What is assumed; remedial sessions. What you need (& must bring to class). Assessment of technical background.
Reference: Course Bibliography III.A.
Constructing a bibliography of online resources in one's own discipline: using Google to find the resources; recording of URLs with brief description and evaluative comment; sorting the resources by type; locating relevant discussion groups and electronic journals.
Assignments: AX1, due Wednesday, 14 November; topic proposal due Monday, 8 October by e-mail.
Basic techniques for locating primary and secondary resources. Library research: standard reference works, finding aids and chains of reference; how to identify the major secondary sources for any topic or discipline. How the online world differs from the offline. Digital library resources at King's. Building up one's own digital reference collection. Techniques for locating online sources. Tricks of the trade.
Readings: Index I.B.1.
Using online searching techniques outlined in the previous lecture to discover major resources for a minimum of two broad topical areas.
Assignments: AX1 topic proposal due by e-mail.
Exercises: Index I.B.1.
Varying quality, purpose, audience for online resources; how does one tell which are reliable, what kind of knowledge they have on offer? Older mechanisms for filtering printed publications in libraries, bookstores; clues provided by printed books, journals, magazines &c. The corresponding clues for evaluating electronic publications.
Assignments: AX1 topic proposal responses back.
Readings: Craft of Research, chapters 1 (“Thinking in Print: The Uses of Research, Public and Private”), 2 (“Connecting with Your Reader: (Re)Creating Your Self and Your Audience”), 5 (“From Problems to Sources”), and 6 (“Using Sources”); Bibliography I.3; Index I.B.2.
Analysis of various online sites to determine the nature of their intended audience, purpose, agenda and reliability.
Assignments: Revisions of AX1 topic proposal due by e-mail.
Readings & data: Index I.B.2.
Beginning a research project: from a broad area of interest to an interesting topic (with specific reference to the AX1 topic proposals). Finding discussions of the topic online; refining the topic; evaluating, classifying or sorting the discussions; capturing their text and documenting the sources. Reducing the topic to a research question, then the question to a problem. Choosing an approach. Being observant while exploring the problem; keeping notes. How computing changes what you do.
Readings: Craft of Research, chapters 3 (“From Topics to Questions”) and 4 (“From Questions to Problems”).
The basic structure and elements of Web pages; writing simple HTML using structured layout techniques. Development of an individualized, structured “resource page” for each person's home discipline from the notes developed in Lab 1; designing and constructing a personal “home-page” to which this resources page will be subordinate: purpose of the page, structure, contents; finding and adding an image; interlinking the pages. Putting the page online with FTP.
Readings: Index I.C.
Reference: Course Bibliography, section V.A.2, “HTML and Web Design”.
The design imperative; special nature of the Web page as a graphical object. The visual and verbal rhetoric of Web pages: how to use visual design elements to communicate aspects of verbal and extra-verbal content; headers, paragraphs, rules, bold and italic emphasis; typography; layout; tables; images; colour and backgrounds. Navigation within the page; between the pages of a site; to and from other sites.
Reference: Index I.A.2; course Bibliography, section V.A.2, “HTML and Web Design”, esp. Williams and Tollett, The Non-Designer's Web Book; Lynch and Horton, Web Style Guide http://info.med.yale.edu/caim/manual/.
Work on AX1: locating sites with substantial discussions; capturing text and recording sources; evaluating, classifying, sorting them as needed; cleaning up the text.
What is to be communicated: (1) the problem, its background and significance; (2) what your work demonstrates or suggests, and the questions it raises; (3) how you arrived at your results. Assessing the results; making claims, supporting them and formulating an argument; presenting the argument and documenting sources. Describing the progress of work; the techniques applied; successes and failures; assessment of the techniques in light of these. The essay-report; its characteristics and objectives.
Readings: Craft of Research, chapters 7 (“Making Good Arguments: An Overview”), 8 (“Claims”), 9 (“Reasons and Evidence”), 10 (“Acknowledgments and Responses”), and 11 (“Warrants”); Index V.A.
Using Monoconc to study the meaning of words in a modern English text; lexicographical exercises with the online Oxford English Dictionary and this text; use of sorting techniques to identify patterns of meaning.
Data and exercises: Index II.B.1.a.
Reading, analysis and text-analysis; text-analysis vs quotation-finding. Diachronic vs synchronic views of text; impact of the KWIC concordance; collocations, sorting and linguistic environment of keywords; frequency of occurrence. Bringing all other relevant knowledge to bear. What text-analysis is good for, what it misses and why.
Readings: Index II.A.2.
Reference: Course Bibliography III.D, esp Sinclair, Corpus, Concordance, Collocation.
Using Monoconc on trial transcripts to study subtleties in language use in trial transcripts. Frequencies of occurrence and how to interpret these; collocations within the span; collocation frequencies; concording a concordance.
Readings and exercise: Index II.B.1.b.
Undirected, open-ended exploration in a large, unseen corpus; basic techniques; opportunities and dangers; loss of comprehensiveness, need for sampling; tentativeness of conclusions.
Undirected, serendipitous exploration of a large collection of speeches using basic text-analytic techniques.
Data and exercises: Index II.B.1.c.
To try out an idea (in the humanities) vs to conduct an experiment (in the sciences). Scientific experiment as response to theory and as self-directed exploration. Adaptation of experimental method to the humanities via computing. Observation vs being observant; keeping notes of what you observe; using these in an essay-report. Making new knowledge: an example from corpus linguistics.
Work on AX2: noting circumstantial and background knowledge of the corpus; preliminary inspection of frequency lists for anomalies and patterns; collocations and collocation frequencies; illustrative citations from the text; notes toward an argument; external information.
Summary of the constraints on text-analysis: character-strings vs. words; words vs. sense; span vs. context; textual data vs. literature; information vs. knowledge. Use of statistics: word-counts; readers' habits. Meta-text and its discipline. Relational database modelling.
Continuing the work begun in Lab 4.
Assignments: AX2 due Wednesday, 12 December (marks returned by 26 December).
Subjects covered this term: practical skills, computing concepts, digital-humanities methods and ideas. Aims of the term, assessment. Continuities and a look ahead.
Assignments: AX3 assigned, due Wednesday, 20 February.
Elementary demographic exercises with Excel: entering data; labelling; formulas with relative and absolute addressing; producing charts; labelling them.
Data and exercises: Index III.B.1.
Readings: Index III.A.
The natures of a spreadsheet, on paper and in digital form. Spreadsheet software as a modelling device. An overview of the various uses to which spreadsheet software may be put: simple record-keeping, numerical analysis; tabular arrangement of verbal data. Purposes of the design; its limitations.
Reference: Index III.A.1.
Two set problems involving numbers from historical and literary studies; analysis of the problems, entry & correction of the data; charting the numbers; developing an argument from the charts.
Data and exercises: Index III.B.2.
Data, representation and structure. Review of the data-types, representations and structures encountered so far. Introduction to tabular data; kinds of tabular data analysis; problems to which tabular analysis can usefully be applied; types of software; flatfile vs relational.
Readings: Index V.C, section IV.
A set research topic in environmental studies with online statistics supplied; identification of a promising research question and the relevant data from the statistics; entry of these data & generation of a chart; developing an argument from the chart; additional data required and/or conclusions suggested.
Data and exercises: Index III.B.3.
The idea of objectivity & the role of the machine. What is being counted; how accurate the counting is and can be; the number as representation of something. Making a graphic representation from the numerical one; why we do this; getting the graphic to tell the truth and/or raise better questions.
Readings: Craft of Research, chapter 15 (“Communicating Evidence Visually”); Peter Galison, “Objectivity is Romantic”, The Humanities and the Sciences, ACLS Occasional Paper 47 (New York: American Council of Learned Societies, 2000), www.acls.org/op47-3.htm#galison.
Reference: Edward Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.
Work on AX3: a complex, typical real-world problem with abundant numerical data from the UK National Statistics site. Importing the data into Excel; identifying one or more significant patterns in the data.
The significance of measurable quantity in the humanities: weight, size and number in the creation of meaning; the use of repetition to express emphasis and so betray covert preoccupations and tendencies. Statistical methods in the social sciences and what students of the humanities can learn from them.
Continuing the work begun in Lab 4.
Examination of a range of problems in which tabular data are involved; criteria for determining whether the flat-file or the relational model is better in each case. The term “database”, its uses and meanings.
Readings: Index IV.A.1; IV.A.3.
Introduction to Access with a single-table database; datasheet view; modifying this view. Construction of a 2-table relational database; analysing the problem; sketching the design; entering the data; correcting the design; formulating and checking queries. (Continued in Lab 2 if necessary.)
Data and exercises: Index IV.B.1.
Description of the relational model; its aims; mechanics; basic rules. Types of relationships. Overview of the design process. The role of interpretation.
Readings: Index IV.A.4.
Continuation of the work of Lab 1 (if required). Analysis of a significantly more complex, real-world database of music CDs.
Readings and data: Index IV.B.2.
Overview of a database implementing several hundred records from the Listed Buildings System of the U.K. National Monuments Record. Analysis of the legacy data, its native encoding; identifying entities and their attributes; one-to-many and many-to-many relationships.
Readings: Index IV.B.3, Overview.
Thorough examination of the database in Access: main tables, keys, relationships, intermediate tables, with particular attention to the many-to-many relationships and the relationship-types between the tables. Some elementary queries.
Reference: Index IV.B.3, Overview.
The difference between a (natural-language) question and a (database) query. Examples of typical questions to be asked of the Listed Buildings Database, their translation into database queries, implementation of these queries; checking the results and correcting errors.
Readings: Index IV.B.3, Queries.
Work on AX4: several problems in a fictitious but verisimilar scenario for actual use of the Listed Buildings Database. Analysis of each problem, formulation of the queries, checking the results while keeping careful notes of each decision made.
The major problems posed by the database and by the scenario; discussion of various alternatives and approaches.
Continuing the work begun in Lab 4.
Subjects covered this year: practical skills, computing concepts, digital-humanities methods and ideas. Continuities. Aims of the course; assessment.
Assignments: AX4 due Wednesday, 26 March (marks returned by 9 April).
An optional session, featuring study of a “mock” exam, will be offered for students wanting more guidance on preparing for it. The date will be scheduled by arrangement with class members. The date of the exam will be announced by the college in the spring.
A sample exam is available here.