This course is crosslisted as Digital Humanities 2130A.
Digital History refers to the use of computers, computer programs, digital media and other electronic technologies to teach, communicate, simulate, preserve, access, analyze, research, present and publish interpretations of the past. In this course you will learn how historical content is produced, presented and published in digital form; how to find and evaluate digital primary and secondary sources; and how to use computational techniques to work with digital resources. No programming experience or previous background in the subject area is required.
- Discover the enormous range of historical sources, both primary and secondary, that are available online in digital form
- Learn to utilize sources that are ‘born-digital’
- Apply computational tools to the scholarly activities of discovering,
annotating, comparing, referring, sampling, illustrating and representing (Unsworth)
- Be able to critically engage with the emerging methods of digital history and digital humanities
- Evaluate and determine strategies for historical practice with digital sources and tools
In-class Activities, Evaluation and Assignments
There are two 2-hour sessions per week. For the first hour each day, I will explain and demonstrate the use of particular computational methods or tools on a range of digital historical sources. For the second hour, you will practice using the tool or method in class and I will go around and answer questions and provide assistance. We will follow the in-class work with a group discussion. At the end of each class you will upload a copy of your day’s notebook to the OWL Site.
In-class hands-on work 30%
Short assignments 30%
Final research project 40%
The short assignments (2-5 pages each) will test your understanding of the course material and your ability to apply the techniques that you have learned. In the final research project you will be asked to use the computational analysis of sources to support or question historical claims made in the scholarly literature on a particular topic. You will also be asked to reflect on the aspects of the process that you felt were successful or not, about other ways that the technology might be used to assist the historian in his or her work, and things that historians should be cautious or critically aware of when using similar tools. More information about the assignments and ways to approach them will be discussed in class.
The OWL Site for the course will only be used to submit coursework and assignments. All other course material will be available on this webpage.
Required Software and Textbook
To get the most out of this class, you will need a Windows, Mac or Linux laptop, which you should bring to every class.
There is one required textbook, which is available free of charge. Download the Mathematica notebook version to use for this course.
Turkel, William J. Digital Research Methods with Mathematica. 2015.
You will also need a desktop license for the Mathematica software. (Don’t let the name scare you. You don’t need any particular experience with mathematics to do well in this course).
Although Mathematica is a commercial product, Wolfram Research, the company that makes it, has provided us with free copies to use in this class. If you are registered in the course, I will send your email address to the Campus Computer Store, where you will be able to pick up a Mathematica license to use for the term.
Late Work and Attendance
Participation in in-class activities is a key component of this class. I expect you to attend every class and participate in the day’s activities.
In general, I don’t like to penalize late work. Each assignment will have a suggested due date and, a week or so later, a zero date. If you hand in your assignment before the zero date, you will receive full credit for your work. After the zero date, it will be worth nothing.
If you are unable to meet a course requirement due to illness or other serious circumstances, you must provide valid medical or other supporting documentation to the Dean’s office as soon as possible and contact me immediately.
Regarding absence for medical illness, see the Policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness:
- Th Sep 10.
Slides. 1A: Introduction to Digital History
Readings. Andrews and Burke, “What Does it Mean to Think Historically?“
- Tu Sep 15.
Slides. 1B: Word Frequency
Readings. Chapter 01: Text Analysis, Basic Examples
Assignment. SHORT ASSIGNMENT 1 (due Oct 1)
- Th Sep 17.
Slides. 2A: Text Search
Readings. Chapter 01: Text Analysis, Generalizing the Examples
- Tu Sep 22.
Slides. 2B: N-gram Frequency
Readings. Chapter 01: Text Analysis, Programming with Mathematica
- Th Sep 24.
Slides. 3A: KWIC
Readings. Chapter 02: Pattern Matching, Basic Examples
- Tu Sep 29.
Slides. 3B: Pattern Matching
Readings. Chapter 02: Pattern Matching, Generalizing the Examples
- Th Oct 01.
Slides. 4A: Capitalized Phrases
Readings. Chapter 02: Pattern Matching, Programming with Mathematica
SHORT ASSIGNMENT 1 DUE.
- Tu Oct 06.
Slides. 4B: Collocations
Readings. Chapter 03: Who and What, Basic Examples
Assignment. SHORT ASSIGNMENT 2 (due Oct 22)
- Th Oct 08.
Slides. 5A: Associations
Readings. Chapter 03: Who and What, Generalizing the Examples
- Tu Oct 13.
Slides. 5B: Named Entities
Readings. Chapter 03: Who and What, Programming with Mathematica
SHORT ASSIGNMENT 1 ZERO DATE.
- Th Oct 15.
Slides. 6A: Timelines
Readings. Chapter 04: When and Where, Basic Examples
- Tu Oct 20.
Slides. 6B: Maps
Readings. Chapter 04: When and Where, Generalizing the Examples
- Th Oct 22.
Slides. 7A: Batch Downloading
SHORT ASSIGNMENT 2 DUE.
- Tu Oct 27.
Slides. 7B: Corpus Search
Readings. Chapter 04: When and Where, Programming with Mathematica
Assignment. SHORT ASSIGNMENT 3 (due Nov 12)
- Th Oct 29.
NO CLASS – FALL STUDY BREAK
- Tu Nov 03.
Slides. 8A: Document Vectors
Readings. Chapter 05: Information Retrieval, Basic Examples
SHORT ASSIGNMENT 2 ZERO DATE.
- Th Nov 05.
Slides. 8B: TF-IDF
Readings. Chapter 05: Information Retrieval, Generalizing the Examples
Assignment. FINAL ASSIGNMENT (due Dec 08)
- Tu Nov 10.
Slides. 9A: Markup Languages
Readings. Chapter 06: Internet Sources, Basic Examples
- Th Nov 12.
Slides. 9B: Scraping
Readings. Chapter 06: Internet Sources, Generalizing the Examples
SHORT ASSIGNMENT 3 DUE.
- Tu Nov 17.
Slides. 10A: Page images and OCR
Readings. Chapter 07: Image Processing, Basic Examples
- Th Nov 19.
Slides. 10B: Image Processing
- Tu Nov 24.
Slides. 11A: Identifying and Classifying Images
SHORT ASSIGNMENT 3 ZERO DATE.
- Th Nov 26.
Slides. 11B: Photogrammetry and Georectification
- Tu Dec 01.
Slides. 12A: Application Program Interfaces (APIs)
- Th Dec 03.
Slides. 12B: Entity Network Spidering
- Tu Dec 08.
Work on final assignment in class.
FINAL ASSIGNMENT DUE.
Statement on Academic Offences
Scholastic offences are taken seriously and students are directed to read the appropriate policy, specifically, the definition of what constitutes a Scholastic Offence, at the following Web site:
Students who are in emotional/mental distress should refer to Mental Health@Western
for a complete list of options about how to obtain help.