Digital Literary and Cultural Studies: Six Degrees of Francis Bacon

76-429/829, Fall 2013

Monday/Wednesday 3-4:20pm · Lab: Thursday 3-4:20pm
Baker 140C

David Bamman, School of Computer Science
Prof. Christopher Warren, Department of English

Digital Literary and Cultural Studies: Six Degrees of Francis Bacon is a graduate (and advanced undergraduate) seminar bridging the Department of English and the School of Computer Science. Students will develop a broad technical understanding of state-of-the-art methods in the digital humanities (including social network analysis, topic modeling, classification techniques, and visualization), investigate the histories of such methods, and put them to use through in-depth application to a specific domain: Renaissance and Early Modern Studies (ca. 1500-1700).

Open to students across multiple Colleges and degree programs, particularly Computer Science, CFA, and Dietrich H&SS (with no prerequisites required), this course will address questions such as: What can networks teach us about culture and history? Can networks illuminate the spread of ideas and information across time? What's the proper role of the algorithm in cultural and historical studies? What assumptions do we make when applying a particular algorithm to text? How do we judge and critique the validity of a computational analysis? Does an emphasis on "collaborative making" change how people think about arts, culture, and the humanities?

Humanities students will learn the foundational methods used in the computational analysis of text; CS students will use network science as a lens into cultural history; and designers and information scientists will practice making humanities knowledge visible and appealing. The course will bridge divides, not only between the "digital" and the "humanities," but also between the qualitative and the quantitative, between theory and practice, critique and poesis - ultimately, thinking and doing.