1. Concepts & Readings

Overview

Digital Humanities is a field at the intersection of computational technology and traditional humanities disciplines. In the last twenty years, the field has attracted increasing attention, as well as some debate about its definition. Digital humanities can be described as a set of conceptual and practical approaches to digital engagement with cultural materials. Repositories and online sites that contain substantial holdings of primary materials exist alongside new tools for the analysis, processing, search, and use of text, audio, video, and image files. These are changing the ways in which humanists do their business, whether as scholars or as stewards of legacy materials, or as creators of primary materials in the arts, literature, history, communication, and other fields.

This coursebook is the online version of an introductory course developed at UCLA as the foundation class for the Digital Humanities undergraduate and graduate curricula. The coursebook contains a set of lessons, exercises, and assignments that follow the sequence established in the course:

The lessons contain basic concepts and ideas for each unit, from fundamentals of digitization, analysis of the structure of digital projects, to topics concerned with the understanding, use, analysis, creation, and display of knowledge in digital formats.

The exercises are meant to extent the conceptual discussions through a dialogue with hands-on experience and analysis of the features or functionalities of digital projects.

The assignments are the hands-on part of the course and build capacity to use digital humanities’ techniques. They are tied, in part, to the series of concept lessons and exercises, but are production oriented rather than critical in their emphasis.

The readings for the course are linked when they exist online in their full text format. If they are under copyright, then they are available only to the UCLA community through a log-in. However, links and readings are cited so they can be tracked and used by any reader of this coursebook.

The philosophy of the course is that knowledge of digital humanities comes through direct experience of making combined with critical insights that are integral to humanistic thought. Therefore its pedagogical approach combines the creation of digital projects in tandem with critical reflection on the cultural, historical, and ideological values that information structures and platforms embody.

This class is not focused on new media, on social media, or on communication studies. Nor does it have a heavy programming emphasis (at this point, it has no programming modules at all, though we hope that will change ahead). But it does contain the basic tools (technical and conceptual) to go “under the hood” of digital projects, design and create an online project using tools and platforms that are considered standard practice in the field, and reflect critically on the rhetoric of digital techniques in their dialogue with the humanities.

(JD 8.4.13)

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