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Welcome to the Course

Posted by Matthew K. Gold (he/him) on
Abstract colours and shapes: trees reaching for the clear blue sky.

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Welcome to “Approaching the Digital Humanities,” a course offered through the Ph.D. Program in English at The Graduate Center, CUNY during the Spring 2018 semester. Here is the description of the course:

This course provides an encounter with the epistemological ground underlying the digital humanities (DH), asking how the use of technology in humanities contexts can offer new ways of knowing. The argument of the class is that technology is not simply an additive element to humanities inquiry, but rather that it can unsettle existing ways of thinking in ways that are both helpful and potentially troubling. Our emphasis will be on the various models of knowledge used in the digital humanities, and on the larger ramifications of those approaches for the field of literary studies in particular and the academy in general. Among the questions we will consider are: to what extent can hypothesis-driven computational inquiries help us make arguments about literary history? In what ways can quantitative text experiments avoid positivist forms of argumentation through the use of Dadaist or Oulipean models? To what extent can various DH approaches and methods be grounded in issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality? How can publication venues and review processes in the humanities account for and represent non-textual knowledge?

Among the thematics we will explore are evidence, scale, representation, genre, quantification, and data. Though no previous technical skills are required, students will be asked to experiment in introductory ways with DH tools and methods as a way of concretizing some of our readings and discussions. Readings will include work by Johanna Drucker, Lauren Klein, Alan Liu, Ted Underwood, Tressie McMillan Cottom, Todd Presner, Stephen Ramsay, Kim Gallon, Andrew Piper, Andrew Goldstone, Tara McPherson, and others.

DH skeptics are welcome. In lieu of the final paper, first-year students may write a review essay in preparation for the program’s first exam.

I’m looking forward to exploring these topics with you through the semester. Our courses spaces include this blog (for student posts) and a private course group (where you will find readings). Our syllabus and schedule of reading is available through the “Syllabus” link above.

If you have any questions about the site, please leave a comment!

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