Introduction to Digital Humanities

Course Info

DHUM 70000 / IDS 81660 / MALS 75400
Fall 2018
CUNY Graduate Center
Tuesdays 4:15pm--6:15pm - Room 6417

Course Blog:
Course Group:
Course Hashtag: #dhintro18
Email the class:


Dr. Stephen Brier
Office hours: T 3pm-4pm and by appointment Office location: room 7301.10 (through the Student Affairs office)

Dr. Matthew K. Gold
Office hours: T 11am-12pm and by appointment
Office location: 5307.04

Advisory Fellows:

Patrick Smyth (MA in DH)
Office hours: M 5:30-6:30 Tu 3:00-4:00

Agustín Indaco (MS in Data Analysis/Vis)
Office hours: W 5:30-6:30 Th 5:00-6:00

Course Overview

"Introduction to Digital Humanities" is the first course in a year-long, two-course sequence of classes that aims to introduce students to the landscape of digital humanities tools and methods through readings and classroom and online discussions, lectures offered by prominent scholars and technologists, hands-on workshops, and collaborative projects. Students enrolled in the two-course sequence will complete their first year at the GC having been introduced to a broad range of ways to critically evaluate and incorporate digital technologies into their academic research and teaching. In addition, they will have explored both the general field and a particular area of digital scholarship and/or pedagogy of interest to them, produced a digital project in collaboration with fellow students, and learned how to present their digital work effectively.

The two connected three-credit courses will be offered during the Fall and Spring semesters DH classes for master's students and Interdisciplinary Studies courses for doctoral students. The Fall 2018 class will be co-taught by Professors Stephen Brier and Matthew K. Gold. The Spring course will be taught by Professor Andie Silva.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will become acquainted with the current landscape of the field of digital humanities.

  • Students will become conversant with a range of debates in the field of DH through readings and discussions.

  • Students will create a social media presence and begin to prepare their own digital portfolios.

  • Students will create a proposal for a digital project for possible development in the Spring.

  • Students will become familiar with the resources available at the Graduate Center to support work on digital teaching and research projects.

Requirements and Structure:

Students in the course should complete the following work during the semester:

Reading and Discussion (Weekly)

Students should complete all weekly readings in advance of the class meeting and should take an active part in class discussions.

Blogging (6 posts)

  • Students are responsible for writing five blog posts on our shared course blog. These should be posted by Friday night so that peers have the weekend to respond before Tuesday's class.

    • two short responses to our weekly readings or in-class discussions;

    • one post about a workshop you have attended, with the goal of helping other students understand what they may have missed and/or what you found valuable about it;

    • two post about praxis assignments;

    • one post about their final project.
  • Students who are not writing blog posts on a given week should comment on and respond to the posts of other students.

  • Students are encouraged to live-tweet their readings, workshops, class discussions, or other events of interest to #dhintro18

Workshops (3 workshops)

  • In connection with GC Digital Initiatives, we will be offering skills workshops throughout the semester ( Students are responsible for attending a minimum of three workshops over the course of the semester. You are free to go to as many as you'd like pending space limitations. To satisfy this requirement, students can also attend workshops offered by the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Program, the Teaching and Learning Center, the GC Library, and the Quantitative Research Center.

Praxis Assignments (2 Assignments)

During the semester, we will ask you to choose two of three praxis assignments to complete. These exercises are meant to be beginner-level; our interest in having you complete them lies in getting you to experiment with new tools. Your results do not have to be necessarily significant or meaningful; the important thing is to engage the activity and gain a better understanding of the kinds of choices one must make when undertaking such a project. We ask you to think, too, about both the strengths and the limitations of the tools you are trying out.

Our group on the CUNY Academic Commons includes an integration with the Dirt Directory (look for the Digital Tools link in the group), which can help lead you to new tools to try.

Assignment options:

  1. Text-Mining Assignment (Due Oct 9) Explore a text or set of texts with Voyant (easiest), Bookworm, MALLET, or another text-mining tool. Blog about your experiences.

  2. Mapping Assignment (Due Oct 23) Create a map of a novel, an author's works, or some other data using Google Maps, CartoDB, ARCGIS StoryMaps, or another mapping platform. Blog about your project

  3. Network Analysis Assignment (Due Nov 6) Identify or create a dataset of interest and explore it using a network analysis tool such as Gephi or Palladio. Further resources may be found on the DH@Berkeley site and this page created by Miriam Posner.

Final Projects:

Students may choose between a) writing a conventional seminar paper related to some aspect of our course readings; or b) crafting a formal proposal for a digital project that might be executed with a team of students during the spring semester. Guidelines for the proposal will be distributed later in the semester.


Regular participation in discussions across the range of our face-to-face and online course spaces is essential.

  • Participation and online assignments (30%)

  • Final project (70%)


All students should register for accounts on the following sites: CUNY Academic Commons, Twitter, GitHub, and Zotero (the library staff offers several very good intro workshops on Zotero that you are encouraged to attend).

Remember that when you register for social-networking accounts, you do not have to use your full name or even your real name. One benefit of writing publicly under your real name is that you can begin to establish a public academic identity and to network with others in your field. However, keep in mind that search engines have extended the life of online work; if you are not sure that you want your work for this course to be part of your permanently searchable identity trail on the web, you should strongly consider creating a digital alias. Whether you engage social media under your real name or whether you construct a new online identity, please consider the ways in which social media can affect your career in both positive and negative ways.

Books to Purchase:

You are not required to purchase any books for this course -- all readings will be circulated via links on the web or via PDF. Should you wish to purchase some of the books we will spend significant amounts of time discussing, we encourage you to purchase books via this link, which costs you nothing but nets a 5 percent contribution to the Mina Rees Library for book and electronic resource purchases for the benefit of all GC students. Three such books are:

  • Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. New York: New York University Press, 2011.

  • Gold, Matthew K. Debates in the Digital Humanities: 2012. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012 -- available for free online at

  • Gold, Matthew K, and Lauren F. Klein. Debates in the Digital Humanities: 2016, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016 -- available for free online at

Readings marked (PDF) will be made available via the Files section of our course group.

Academic Accommodations & Accessibility

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable academic accommodations if determined eligible by the Graduate Center's Disability Services Office. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student’s eligibility from the DS Office, which is located in room 7301 at the GC and which can be reached by emailing . It is the student’s responsibility to initiate contact with the office and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Course Schedule (subject to change)

August 28 - Introductions

September 4 - Approaching the Digital Humanities



  • Gold, Matthew K. "Digital Humanities" The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Media (PDF)

  • Terras, Melissa, and Julianne Nyhan. "Father Busa's Female Punch Card Operatives" Debates in the Digital Humanities: 2016, edited by Lauren F. Klein and Matthew K. Gold, University of Minnesota Press, 2016, p. 57.

September 11 - No Class

September 18 - No Class

September 25 - Knowledge Models; Debates; Questions



October 2 - Networks of Scholarly Communication

October 9 - Experimentation - Text Mining

PRAXIS ASSIGNMENT #1 (Text Mining) Due

October 16 - Exploration

  • Ramsay, Stephen. “The Hermeneutics of Screwing Around; or What You Do with a Million Books.” Pastplay: Teaching and Learning History with Technology, edited by Kevin Kee, University of Michigan Press, 2014, pp. 111–20.

  • Drucker, Johanna. Speclab: Digital Aesthetics and Projects in Speculative Computing. University of Chicago Press, 2009.(Selections)

  • Ramsay, Stephen. Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism. University of Illinois Press, 2012. (selections)

  • Samuels, Lisa, and Jerome McGann. "Deformance and Interpretation." New Literary History, vol. 30, no. 1, 1999, pp. 25-56.

  • Witmore, Michael. "Text: A Massively Addressable Object." Debates in the Digital Humanities: 2012, edited by Matthew K. Gold. University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

  • Piper, Andrew “Think Small: On Literary Modeling.” PMLA, vol. 132, no. 3, 2017, pp. 651–58.

  • So, Richard Jean. "All Models are Wrong." PMLA, vol. 132, no. 3, May 2017, pp. 668-673.


  • Gavin, Michael, et al. “Spaces of Meaning: Conceptual History, Vector Semantics, and Close Reading.” Debates in the Digital Humanities: 2019, edited by Matthew K. Gold, University of Minnesota Press, 2019. (PDF)

October 23 - Mapping

Explore the following mapping projects:


October 30 - Visualization

Projects to Explore:

November 6 - Pedagogy



PRAXIS ASSIGNMENT #3 (Network Analysis) Due

November 13 - History and the Archive

Projects to Explore:

November 20 - Infrastructure and Materiality

November 27 - Race and Inequality in Algorithmic Cultures

  • Noble, Safiya. Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism. New York University Press, 2018. (selections - PDF)

  • Eubanks, Virginia. Automating Inequality. St. Martin’s Press, 2018. (selections - PDF)

  • Browne, Simone. Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness. Duke University Press, 2015. (selections - PDF)


December 4 - Student presentations

December 11 - Student presentations

December 18 Final projects due