A #DH Syllabus

Post Update: This is the final syllabus for a digital humanities course—Catalog # Hum 340—I taught for the School of Arts & Humanities, Claremont Graduate University, the summers of 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 as a research tool (in lieu of foreign language) and the spring of 2011 and 2012 as a research tool and/or for credit. This course is no longer offered as the faculty curriculum committee re-evaluates the course. Posts categorized 340 (or tagged 340) are associated in some way with this course.

Any medium powerful enough to extend man’s reach is powerful enough to topple his world. To get the medium’s magic to work for one’s aims rather than against them is to attain literacy.

Digital Humanities is a collaborative approach to scholarship that combines traditional forms of humanistic study with informational technologies. The emergence and adoption of informational technologies into the humanities is more than a means to an end; informational technologies have had and will have a significant and vital role in shaping scholarship within the humanities. In this course, we will explore the core concepts of the digital humanities both theoretically and practically through discussion and “hands–on” experience using informational technologies—e.g., search, citation management, visualization, programming—to increase your ability to find, collect, manage, manipulate, do, and publish your research.


Ultimately, I do not expect that you will leave this class as a technically proficient programming digital humanist. I do expect, however, that you will leave this course with a greater understanding of the basic tools and “languages” of a digital humanist and their impact on humanistic study.

Specifically, students will acquire basic familiarity with: the major concepts and trends in the digital humanities; working with files and directories; information trapping via RSS and citation management; programming; and using web publishing programs (see Tasks for more details).


  • Session 01 (Jan 18): Security, Accounts, Files;
  • Session 02 (Jan 25): Files, Twitter, RSS;
  • Session 03 (Feb 01): Search, Zotero;
  • Session 04 (Feb 08): Zotero (cont.);
  • Session 05 (Feb 15): Zotero Review, DH Projects;
  • Session 06 (Feb 22): DH Projects Proposal, Project Tools;
  • Session 07 (Feb 29): Project Reading and Preliminary Project Proposal Due, Project Tools;
  • Session 08 (Mar 07): Project Tools;
  • Session 09 (Mar 14): Spring Break;
  • Session 09 (Mar 21): Final Project Proposal Due, Project Tools;
  • Session 10 (Mar 28): Project Work;
  • Session 11 (Apr 04): Project Work;
  • Session 12 (Apr 11): Project Work;
  • Session 13 (Apr 18): Project Work;
  • Session 14 (Apr 25): Project Work;
  • Session 15 (May 02): Final Project Due.

Please note: this schedule is subject to change.

Requirements & Policies

Basic Requirements

  • complete all assigned in–class and out–of–class tutorials and exercises;
  • complete the assigned project readings;
  • complete a final project.


Attendance is mandatory, please let me know if you are going to miss a session. It is the student’s responsibility to complete any tasks, readings, and/or project work missed during the student’s absence.


The following rubric will be used in grading the student’s efforts for this class on a pass/fail scale:

  • 1/4: using assigned social media, and overall participation and effort (including attendance) in the course;
  • 1/4: completing assigned tasks;
  • 1/2: final project:
    • 1/3: project proposal;
    • 2/3: final project.

I do not distinguish, when assessing students, between those students taking this course as a research tool and those taking this course for credit. I treat both equally.


There is often confusion about how this class counts. To avoid confusion, this course may count:

  • as a second research tool—in lieu of a foreign language—for Ph.D. students in all humanities programs and for MA students in the Arts Management program;
  • or as a 4 credit course.

Note: some, but not all, departments allow students to double count this course. Please check with your academic adviser and/or department chair to verify your department’s policy regarding double counting courses.

Final Project

All students—individually or collaboratively—are required to complete a final project. Projects may involve but are not limited to:

  • “research that brings new approaches or documents best practices in the study of the digital humanities;”
  • “planning and developing prototypes of new digital tools for preserving, analyzing, and making accessible digital resources, including libraries’ and museums’ digital assets;”
  • “scholarship or studies that examine the philosophical or practical implications and impact of the use of emerging technologies in specific fields or disciplines of the humanities, or in interdisciplinary collaborations involving several fields or disciplines;”
  • “innovative uses of technology for public programming and education utilizing both traditional and new media; and”
  • “new digital modes of publication that facilitate the dissemination of humanities scholarship in advanced academic as well as informal or formal educational settings at all academic levels.”

*Note: The project ideas listed above are from the National Endowment for the HumanitiesOffice of Digital Humanities Start–Up Grants.

Project Due Dates

  1. Project Reading due Feb 29th;
  2. Project Proposal
    • preliminary proposal (description section only) due Feb 29th,
    • final proposal (all sections) due Mar 21st,
    • proposals should be submitted as a Google Doc and shared with the instructor @ goatrockresearch [at] gmail [dot] com; and a
  3. Project Site due May 2nd.

Project Reading

Thinking About the Digital Humanities
Cohen, Daniel, and Roy Rosenzweig. “Promises and Perils of Digital History.” In Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web, 1 – 17. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.
———. “Exploring the History Web.” In Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web, 18 – 50. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.
Doing a Digital Project
Cohen, Daniel, and Roy Rosenzweig. “Getting Started.” In Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web, 50 – 79. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.
———. “Becoming Digital.” In Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web, 80 – 107. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.
———. “Designing for the History Web.” In Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web, 108 – 140. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.
———. “Building an Audience.” In Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web, 141 – 159. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.

Project Reading Due: February 29.

The Digital History chapters listed above are the only required required readings for this course. However, the instructor will also post a variety of recommended—but not required—readings to assist students in completing assigned tasks, the final project, and exploring the digital humanities in general.

Proposal Guidelines *

  1. Description: What?; Why?; Who: Participant(s) and Audience(s)?; and
  2. Work Plan: How?
  3. The project proposal must be written in Google Docs and shared with the instructor: goatrockresearch [at] gmail [dot] com;
  4. Preliminary draft of description section is due Feb 29th;
  5. Final Proposal (all sections) is due Mar 21st.
  1. Description:
    1. Describe in one to two paragraphs, written for a nonspecialist audience, the project’s: goal(s); the major issue(s) to be addressed; the intended audience(s); and how your proposed project contributes to and/or advances humanities scholarship via digital methods and/or technologies.
    2. Describe in one paragraph other existing digital humanities projects that are similar in nature to your project and discuss how they relate to the proposed project (you need not include every similar project, just a representative sample: ~ 3). The scan should make it clear that you are aware of similar work being done.
    3. Include a biography section that contains a brief, one-paragraph biography for the participant(s). If you are collaborating, please identify the project manager (if one was chosen) and collaborators directly involved in completing the the proposed project, and the reasons for and nature of their collaboration should be explained.
  2. Work Plan:
    1. Describe the specific task(s), method(s), technology/tool(s) that will be used in some detail (~1000 characters but no more than), noting which participants will be involved if it is a collaborative project, and milestones for completing the project. The participant(s) should also discuss what provisions will be made for the long-term maintenance of the project (if necessary).
    2. Discuss provisions for making the project open and accessible in every sense of the term, including the use, copying, distribution, and modification of the project via a Creative Commons license.
    3. Provide a concise list of resources used in completing the project—to be included in an appendix(s)—including information about preliminary research or planning, resources available, and, if applicable, include wireframes, screen shots, and other project schematics, notes, tools, links etc.

*Note: The proposal guidelines are adapted from the National Endowment for the HumanitiesOffice of Digital Humanities Start–Up Grants.

Project Site

The project will be delivered, for most students, as a website. The project site may take whatever form—extensive containing many pages or small containing only a few pages; composed primarily of text or multifaceted containing text, video, images, and/or graphics—the student(s) proposes. Some projects may not directly translate into a site per se (e.g., student decides to create an infographic—i.e., “Digital Humanities”—as a final project). If this is the case, the student(s) is required to create a project site that contains their proposal, marked up as an HTML document, and provides access to the core project file(s) (e.g., student creates a video, posts project video to YouTube or Vimeo, and includes a link to the YouTube or Vimeo page containing the video). Students should consult with the instructor to determine how best to handle projects that are not directly web–based.

Concepts, Methods, Tools, & Tasks *


Information Trapping:



  • using web development languages and tools (e.g., HTML);
  • basic programming (e.g., Python).


  • using a blog publishing platform (e.g., WordPress);
  • using an archival publishing platform (e.g., Omeka).

* We may not cover all the tasks listed here due to time constraints as well as student needs and desires.

Accounts & Software

Students are required to sign–up for and/or install the following software:

  • Google Account: for subscribing to rss feeds, mapping, document collaboration, YouTube.
  • Twitter Account: for exploring social networks.
  • Zotero (Firefox extension or the stand alone version): for citation management.
  • Text Editor: for coding/programming. Suggested editors:

Password Management

Students are required to sign up for several accounts. Students are responsible for keeping track of the accounts they sign up for as part of this course. To make this task easier and more secure to manage, I highly recommend that students invest (i.e., spend the time and money) in a good account/password manager. Account/password management options:

  • 1 Password (Desktop Application; Mac/Windows OS; Browser Integration; iOS/Android App; Education: $40 – $100 depending on version).
  • KeePass (Desktop Application; Windows OS Only; Browser Integration; iOS/Android App; Open Source, Freeware).
  • LastPass (Browser-Based Application; All Platforms, iOS/Android App; Free and Paid Versions).

I highly recommend 1 Password; it costs, but it is worth the cost in my humble opinion. KeePass is also a great application, but it is not available for Mac OSX and its iOS integration is limited. LastPass, web-based, is a good compromise between KeePass and 1Password.

I cannot stress this enough: Please be sure to clearly and carefully record each and every user id/password combo for each account. You have been warned.