LIS 590DH: Digital Humanities

Instructor: John Unsworth

Office Hours and Personal Communication Preferences

Course Description:

This course will examine the impact of information technology in a number of humanities disciplines, from history and literature to architecture and music.


Readings will focus on the experience of particular disciplines in applying computational methods to research problems; the basic principles of humanities computing; specific applications and methods; and production, dissemination and archiving. The only text you will have to purchase for this class is the Blackwell Companion to Digital Humanities, which you can buy at the Illini Union Bookstore. I apologize in advance for the price on this book ($143): the initial publication is in hardcover only, and it is priced as a reference work for a library market. I've asked to have the foreword, introduction, and History chapters on electronic reserve by January 12, 2005, so you can get started if the book is slow in arriving. You may also be able to buy the book through Amazon or Blackwell, but the price will be a little higher and you may not get the book until some time in late February. Other readings will be freely available on the web, and are linked from the syllabus, below.

Assignments and Expectations:

Each student should make at least six substantive posts to the class bulletin boards on current readings, during the course of the semester (18%). There will be an in-class midterm (15%) and a take-home final exam (20%), and each student will complete a semester-long in-depth review of an existing digital humanities project (35%), with attention to knowledge representation as practiced in the project, intellectual property problems (and solutions), technical impediments to library collection and preservation, and other issues. Projects for review should be selected, and contact made with project directors, by the third class meeting, and each student should make four substantive posts to the class bulletin board with interim reports from his or her review-in-progress, during the course of the semester (12%).

Students are expected to attend and participate in each of the live sessions, and turn in assignments on time. One absence or one late assignment is permitted during the course of the semester. In this first instance, no explanation is required; on the other hand, no excuses will be accepted for subsequent absences or late assignments, and a half-grade penalty will be assessed for each absence or late assignment after the first, on the grade for the semester.

Class Meetings:

January 19: History, Part 1 (read in the Companion at least through Foreword, Introduction, Hockey, Eiteljorg, Greenhalgh). Also:

January 26: History, Part 2 (read in the Companion at least through Fujinaga and Weiss). Also:

February 2: History, Part 3 (read in the Companion through Ess). Also:

February 9: Principles, Part 1 (read in the Companion at least through Ramsay). Also:

February 16: Principles, Part 2 (read in the Companion at least through Renear). Also:

February 23: Principles, Part 3 (read in the Companion at least through McCarty). Also:

TAKE-HOME MIDTERM available today

March 2: NO CLASS

March 4: LEEP On-Campus (take-home midterm due)

March 9: Applications, Part 1 (read in the Companion at least through Burrows). Also:

March 16: No class, but please read in Applications, Part 2 in the Companion at least through Lancashire.

[spring break]

March 30: Applications, Part 3 (read in the Companion through Winders). [NB: I'll be in London this week, but office hours and class should take place as scheduled.]

April 6: Dissemination, Part 1 (read in the Companion at least through Deegan and Tanner).

April 13: Dissemination, Part 1 (read in the Companion at least through Jensen).

April 20: Dissemination, Part 3 (read in the Companion through Smith).

April 27: Final Projects

Presentations need to be timed for ten minutes apiece, and you have the option to phone in and do the presentation orally, or to do it in text-chat. Please prepare no more than ten slides (or URLs) in advance, to guide us through your presentation, and send them to me as a list, in this form:

Larra Clark Presentation:

1. Home Page of Orlando
2. [etc.]

and I will post them as classmarks, before the day on which you need to present. I'll push them out to class as you call for them during the presentation.

Presentations should hit the highlights of what you've learned about your project, particularly as it relates to the criteria for review that we've discussed during the semester--so, you could think of the ten slides as ten points of discussion with respect to your project and those criteria.

April 27 we'll have Presentations from:
Clark, Larra
Deschenes, Michael
Duzhyk, Nataliya
English, Eben
Erdman, Jacquelyn
Gudenas, Jean
Kott, Leslie
Russell, Brian
Sanders, Erin
Wheeler, William

May 4: Final Projects; receive take-home final exam.
Presentations from:
Comstock, Sharon
Dougherty, Annie
Johnsen, Leigh
Klein, Jacqueline
Koehler, Amy
Kunz, David
Nelson, Carrie
O'Connor, Caitlin
Olin, Layla
Urban, Richard

May 11 (take-home exam due at 4:30 PM Central)
For the final exam, you will answer one of two questions, spending no more than three hours writing the answer. Answers should be in the neighborhood of 1,000-1,500 words, and may be handwritten or word-processed, emailed or delivered in person.