Skip to content Skip to navigation

Spring Quarter Digital Humanities Course Offerings

Feb 26 2017

Digital Humanities Course Offerings: Spring 2017


Whether you’re interested in building interactive maps, networking historical figures, or detecting authorship through subtleties of style, digital humanities at Stanford has a course for you! Please see below for a partial list of DH course offerings this spring. All are taught by affiliates of the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA) and provide an excellent entry point to the Center’s research.

ENGLISH 153: Time, Space, and Place: Humanistic Inquiry in a Digital Age

M/W 1:30 PM-2:50 PM

Instructor: Dr. Gabriel Wolfenstein

What are the digital humanities? A definition might be: Digital humanities are those pursuits which use digital tools to explore topics of humanistic inquiry. But that definition is rather general. To have a more nuanced understanding of the digital humanities, students will be exposed to a number of its practices, and practitioners. Active engagement by all participants is expected. Students will read and annotate, map and perform digital textual analysis. Ultimately, students will have a better idea of what the digital humanities are, and will be introduced to different ways they can be practiced, opening up possibilities for further exploration.

ENGLISH 184C: Data and Knowledge in the Humanities

M/W 10:30 AM-12:20 PM

Instructor: Prof. Mark Algee-Hewitt

How do different disciplines understand and use data, and how do skills such as interpretation and critical thought work with data to create knowledge? The introduction of mathematics reshaped disciplines like cosmology and sociology in the past while, in the present, the humanities are facing the same challenges with the emergence of fields such as spatial history and the digital humanities. In this class we will study how the introduction of data has transformed the way that we create knowledge.

ENGLISH 184E: Literary Text Mining

M/W 3:30 PM-5:20 PM

Instructor: Prof. Mark Algee-Hewitt

This course will train students in applied methods for computationally analyzing texts for humanities research. The skills students will gain will include basic programming for textual analysis, applied statistical evaluation of results and the ability to present these results within a formal research paper or presentation. As an introduction, students in this course will also learn the prerequisite steps of such an analysis including corpus selection and cleaning, metadata collection, and selecting and creating an appropriate visualization for the results.

HISTORY 105A: History of Information: From Moveable Type to Machine Learning (HISTORY 5A)

T/TH 9:00 AM-10:20 AM

Instructor: Prof. Tom Mullaney

Students who have taken HISTORY 205A/305A should not enroll in this course. Information has a history-- and it's not the one we've been told by Silicon Valley. In a series of propulsive, empirically rich, and provocative lectures and discussions, this course deep-dives into the history of information and IT, including moveable type, telegraphy, typewriting, personal computing, gaming, social media, algorithms, machine learning, Digital Humanities, and more. You will leave the course with entirely new perspectives on information, including how IT shapes-- and is shaped by-- culture, nationality, gender, ethnicity, economy, and environment.

HISTORY 201B/401A: Spatial History: Concepts, Methods, Problems

TH 3:00 PM-5:50 PM

Instructor: Dr. Luca Scholz

What can digital mapping and spatial analysis bring to history? How have historians written spatial history in the past? How do scholars in other disciplines deal with space and what can we learn from them? The course provides students with conceptual and technical skills in spatial history. As part of the exercise to think spatially about the past, students will receive training in Geographic Informational Science (GIS) and develop their own spatial history projects. No prior technical skills are needed for this course.


HIST 242F/342F: Medicine in an Age of Empires

M/W 4:30 PM-5:50 PM


Instructor: Dr. Zachary Dorner


This seminar connects changing ways of understanding the body and disease in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to the business of empire. How did new ideas and methods of selling medicine relate to the rise of state-sponsored violence, resource extraction, global trade, and enslaved labor? Following black ritual practitioners in the Caribbean, apothecaries in England, and scientists abroad reveals the diversity of medical traditions and knowledge production in the early modern period that formed the basis of “modern medicine.” Throughout the quarter, we will examine digital sources pertaining to European ideas about disease and the body ranging from Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year and plantation health manuals to maps of medicine exports. Students will also have an opportunity to write on a primary source chosen from one of the digital repositories we consult during class.


STS 200D: Top Ten Textnologies

T 10:30 AM - 1:20 PM

Instructor: Prof. Elaine Treharne

This course will explore in detail ten of the most successful and long-lived technologies of human communication over the course of ten weeks. We'll examine the Rosetta Stone, Crazy Horse Mountain, the Voynich Manuscript, Banksy's Graffiti, Jackson Pollock's Lucifer, The London Illustrated News, Rihanna's `Work', the IPad, GoogleVR, and a nickel. We shall create biographies of these textual objects to better understand their effectiveness, the intentionality behind their creation and production, their affordances and functionality in the real world. Students will learn to describe and evaluate the major physical attributes and concepts that essentially underpin all forms of human communication. They'll then use this knowledge to replicate, augment, and reform current and historical text technologies.