Session Proposal: Introduction to Digital Humanities

Digital Humanities is a term that elicits both excitement and scorn in scholarly circles, and there is still a great deal of discussion as to whether it is a field of inquiry, a set of research methods, or simply a new perspective on arts and humanities research. This session will provide a brief survey of how the evolving theory and practice of using contemporary technology and technology-assisted research methods are impacting scholarship in the arts and humanities.

The session will include a presentation on major ideas and issues in Digital Humanities, and an overview of popular technologies and methods used in some major DH projects, including: text analysis, digital mapping and GIS methods, social networking tools, such as open annotation, crowdsourced contributions to research, and open access online publishing. Attendees will also get a hands-on demonstration of Voyant – an online collection of text analysis tools. The final section of the session will invite attendees to think about how these new modes of research might influence their own teaching and scholarship in the future, and discuss how collaborations between researchers and university archives and special collections can serve to further Digital Humanities research. Attendees will receive a handout of resources they can use to continue learning about Digital Humanities research at the end of the session.

Session Outline

  1. Presentation
    1. Origin of Computational Humanities research
    2. Overview of major research methods in DH
    3. Description of Successful Research Projects
      1. Text Analysis and Agatha Christie’s Novels (University of Toronto)
      2. Interactive Mapping of the London Blitz (Bomb Sight – University of Portsmouth)
      3. Crowdsource contributions to local history projects (HistoryPin)
  2. Survey of Popular Tools in Digital Humanities Research
    1. Mapping and GIS tools
      1. Google Maps / Google Earth
    2. SNA, Online Collaboration and Crowdsourcing Tools
    3. Text Analysis tools
      1. TaPor Project
      2. SPSS
      3. MALLET
  3. Hands-On Demonstration of Voyant for Text Analysis
    1. Attendees will walk through a simple document ingestion and analysis exercise using Voyant tools.
  4. Summary and Discussion
    1. How might you use DH methods in your own research?
    2. Grant sources and collaboration opportunities
    3. Working with your own university library, archives and special collections
    4. Distribution of handouts


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