Location: Bowdoin / Enhancing The Humanities At Bowdoin / Digital Humanities

Enhancing The Humanities At Bowdoin

The Digital Humanities

Digital Humanities as a discipline is characterized by a collaborative and project-based methodology that evaluates computation via humanities questions and applies digital tools to the humanities’ materials in order to facilitate their study and analysis. The course cluster includes entire courses that use digital humanities tools and methods from start to finish, as well as courses that have a unit in which a digital tool is part of the analytical process or visualizations of the results of working with text, image, networks, or space.  Incorporating sound, sculpture, and other objects of study will be included where possible. Possible interdisciplinary course offerings include history and environmental science (using GIS), literature and mathematics (using topic modeling), as well as language study and information systems (using markup languages). Anticipated outcomes of the collaboration between course participants include the development of campus-wide resources for students and faculty, a protocol for the publication and preservation of digital projects, and the potential for increased student participation in faculty research. The integration of digitally driven questions, methods, and media with discipline-specific inquiry from many departments will allow students the opportunity to become critical analysts and designers of both analytical prose and the multimedia components of communication in the digital age.

Course Offerings

Spring 2015

INTD 2401: Gateway to the Digital Humanities | Professor Crystal Hall

Explores the possibilities and limitations of computation as applied throughout a liberal arts curriculum. Examines key issues in using computation as a tool. What sorts of questions can be asked and answered using computational methods? How do these methods complement and sometimes challenge traditional methodologies in the humanities? What are the primary tools and methods currently being used in the digital humanities? These questions will be examined in the context of a series of projects. Weekly labs will provide hands-on experience with the concepts and tools presented in class and an opportunity to work on the projects. Assumes no prior knowledge of computers, programming, or statistics.

SPAN 3115: Reading Don Quixote | Professor Margaret Boyle

Provides a semester immersion in the reading, words and libraries of Don Quixote and its author Miguel de Cervantes. Alongside close reading of the novel, students will explore the material culture of early modern Spain as well as its afterlife and resurgence into the digital world. The course will also provide an introduction to manuscript and book culture through intensive collaboration with Bowdoin College special collections. Course readings, discussion, and writing in Spanish.

Fall 2014

INTD 1020: How to Read 1,000,000 Books | Professor Crystal Hall

The explosion of digital editions and collections of books gives us unprecedented access to rare individual texts and massive bodies of literary and cultural material. What does it mean to "read" a million books? How does it relate to (or obscure) traditional "lose reading" of texts? Are computer codes and algorithms something we might read? What kinds of new literary analysis do they make possible? The course will apply and critique "distant reading" as a method of making large text collections accessible to human readers. Readings will include single texts from different genres, multi-million book collections, and the most recent criticism and theory related to digital texts. Uses R and Google's N-Gram Data.

FILM 1101: Film Narrative | Professor Allison Cooper

An introduction to a variety of methods used to study motion pictures, with consideration given to films from different countries and time periods. Examines techniques and strategies used to construct films, including mise-en-scène, editing, sound, and the orchestration of film techniques in larger formal systems. Surveys some of the contextual factors shaping individual films and our experiences of them (including mode of production, genre, authorship, and ideology). No previous experience with film studies is required. Attendance at weekly evening screenings is required. Uses and evaluates Omeka collection management software.

ENGL 2305: Imagining London in Eighteenth-Century Literature | Professor Ann Kibbie

Focuses on journals, plays, poems, and novels in which London itself plays a vital role, including James Boswell’s London Journal, Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, John Gay’s Trivia; or the Art of Walking the Streets of London, and Frances Burney’s Evelina. In addition to engaging in critical analysis of these literary texts, students will learn how to use digital mapping, spatial analysis, and image markup to imagine eighteenth-century London, and will work collaboratively to create maps charting the movements of real people (such as Boswell) and fictional characters (such as Moll Flanders) within the city. Theaters, coffeehouses, shops, prisons, hospitals, and parks are among the public spaces we will explore in order to contextualize, enrich, and question the literature. Note: This course fulfills the pre-1800 requirement for English majors. Uses MapBox.

Future Programming for 2014-2016

  • An undergraduate THAT (The Humanities and Technology) Camp 
  • Student-led workshops on spatial analysis, data management, text markup and analysis
  • Attendance at regional Digital Humanities events for undergraduates
  • Film series
  • Speaker series
  • Workshops on digital humanities pedagogical practices (for faculty)

Affiliated Faculty and Departments

Events for 2014-15