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Data analysis in the humanities presents challenges of scale, interpretation, and communication distinct from the social sciences or sciences.

This seminar will explore the emerging practices of data analysis in the digital humanities from two sides: a critical perspective aiming to be more responsible readers of cultural analytics, and a creative perspective to equip you to perform new forms of data analysis yourself.

Our goal is to make it possible to merging forms of data analysis taking place in humanities scholarship, both in terms of applying algorithms and in terms of better investigating the presuppositions and biases of the digital object. We’ll aim to come out much more sophisticated in the use of computational techniques and much more informed about how others might use them.

Some of the key questions we’ll aim to answer are:

  1. What light can algorithmic approaches shed on live questions in humanistic scholarship?
  2. How can you come to understand a new algorithm?
  3. What new forms of research are enabled by the use of data?
  4. What sort of data do practicing humanists want museums and libraries to make available?

A wide variety of types of data will be used but we will focus particularly on methods for analyzing texts. If your interests lie elsewhere, don’t worry too much–as you’ll learn, most of the textual approaches we’ll consider are easily adaptable for (and in many cases, orginally developed for) other sources of data.

Over the course of the semester, you should work to develop your own collection; ideally it will be of texts. Working with these texts will allow us to ask more sophisticated questions on large documents of scholarly importance.