Download the course syllabus.

This course is an introduction to the Digital Humanities, its methods, theories, and applications in humanistic research. It covers a variety of digital tools and approaches to organize, explore, understand, present and tell stories with data. In this course, you will learn how to reverse engineer DH projects to understand how they were built; identify, use, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different tools and methodologies; develop strong humanistic research questions that can be answered through digital research methods; conduct original research; and build a collaborative digital project. You will also learn how to organize and clean data, develop charts, create spatial and network visualizations, work with a content management system, and use basic text analysis tools to explore qualitative data. Often the best digital humanities projects are the result of collaboration, so you will learn how to work effectively and efficiently in teams as you build project management skills. Each unit will guide you through the development, analysis, and application of the skills listed under the course learning goals. In each unit, you will also critique examples of research projects that employ the methods and/or tools that you are learning.

This class meets twice a week for interactive lectures and once a week in smaller lab sections; additional group work outside of the allocated class time will be necessary. We will discuss ways to organize in-person meetings, as well as ways to stay on track through virtual simultaneous and asynchronous group work. No prior experience is necessary, and there are no prerequisites.

What is Digital Humanities?

The Digital Humanities consists of digital research and storytelling practices and critical lenses through which we examine human-technology interactions. More specifically, DH is the study, exploration, and preservation of, as well as education about human cultures, events, languages, people, and material production in the past and present in a digital environment through the creation, use, and critical analysis of dynamic tools to

  • visualize and analyze data
  • share and annotate primary sources
  • discuss and publish findings
  • collaborate on research and teaching

for scholars, students, and the general public.

This quarter we are going to play with a variety of digital tools and approaches to organize, explore, understand, present and tell stories with data. In this course, you will develop the foundational skills on which additional DH courses will build. These skills will also set you apart in whichever field you pursue.

What will I learn?

In this course, you will learn how to:

  • organize and manipulate structured data;
  • create digital maps;
  • create data visualizations;
  • create network graphs;
  • create websites and use content-management systems;
  • undertake sophisticated humanities research;
  • speak, think, and write critically about the epistemological biases and affordances of all of these methods and tools;
  • imagine other possibilities for humanities scholarship.

About Your Instructors

Professor Garcia:

Ashley Sanders Garcia is Vice Chair of the Digital Humanities program at UCLA. She holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialization in Digital Humanities from Michigan State University and B.S. in both History and Mathematics from Western Michigan University.  A comparative colonial historian, her research explores the development of settler colonies in the United States and French Algeria.  Her first publication, “A Study of the Teaching Methods of High School History Teachers,” appeared in The Social Studies, a peer reviewed journal, in 2008. Her most recent publications include a chapter on building a DH program, which will appear in the latest book in the Debates in DH series, Institutions, Infrastructures at the Interstices (forthcoming), and a maturity framework for DH centers (http://bit.ly/ECAR-DH). Currently, the University of Nebraska Press is  considering her manuscript, Between Two Fires: The Origins of Settler Colonialism in the United States and French Algeria, for publication. To learn more about her historical research, check out her academic site, Colonialism Through the Veil.  

Dustin O’Hara:

Dustin O’Hara is a designer and instructor, and Ph.D. candidate in Information Studies Department at UCLA. His recent research interests have been focused on urban technology, and how cultural values are expressed in the design and use of the internet.

Craig Messner:

Craig Messner is a graduate student in the English Department at UCLA, where he studies 19th century American literature and computational approaches to text.