Digital Humanities

The Kaplan Institute continues to develop the area of Digital Humanities at Northwestern! In 2017-2018, we are:

  • Hosting a faculty workshop on incorporating digital tools into the undergraduate curriculum;
  • Supporting NUHDL (Northwestern University Digital Humanities Laboratory);
  • Sponsoring undergraduate courses that feature digital mapping, recording, and analysis.

What are Digital Humanities?
“Digital Humanities” combines inquiry with digital tools—such as data mining, visualization, mapping, and video and audio recording—to conduct and communicate humanities research. It allows scholars to go beyond textual sources to integrate multimedia, user interfaces, and content analysis into humanistic study.

August 27-September 7, 2018
In collaboration with Northwestern University Libraries and the Media and Design Studio of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the Kaplan Institute will host its fifth Digital Humanities Summer Workshop in 2018. The workshop is designed to teach faculty how to implement digital humanities tools into undergraduate courses and research. Five faculty will be selected; the application deadline is April 6, 2018. Click here for the workshop overview.

We have introduced several new digital humanities courses that incorporate technology for broader examination of interdisciplinary humanities topics.

Ancient Rome in Chicago: Digital Humanities Lab
Students learn digital mapping, video editing and rigorous research methodologies while exploring Chicago and its classical past, examining this quintessential modern city’s ongoing dialogue with antiquity. Click here to explore the collaborative online map that went live in December 2015 and is updated with more content each quarter the class is taught! Taught by Francesca Tatarrani (Classics), Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished University Professor of Instruction.

Cultural Criticism in the Digital Age: Historical & Contemporary Perspectives
What is the history of cultural criticism in the United States? Where is it headed? How do its past and future relate to each other? This methods seminar for 15 students combines historical examination with fieldwork at contemporary art museums and performance spaces. Students read extensively in the history of cultural criticism, meet with museum and arts professionals, and experiment with new, digital modes of critical writing. Taught by Michael Kramer (History).

Shakespeare’s Circuits: Global, Local, Digital
Students reflect on the unique position of Shakespeare in world cultures using digital platforms to create an interactive map of his influences over time and space in visual arts, film, print, and performing arts. Click here for the Shakespeare's Circuits website. Taught by Wendy Wall (English and Humanities), Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, and Will West (English and Classics).

Technologies of Language
"What if language were the true measure of the world, and syntax the true nature of time?" Students explore the most important philosophies of language from the last century and the digitization of language today, with a final project to convert a book from the library's Special Collections into a digital object. Click here for the Technologies of Language website. Taught by Jules Law (English).

Digitizing Folk Music History
Students examine American culture, politics, and Cold War attitudes through the lens of the US folk music revival of the 1960s. They explore readings, audio listening, documentary films, seminar discussions, and extensive digital analysis to  look at how digital technologies might help interpret history more meaningfully. Click here to read an article about Northwestern Libraries' NEH grant to digitize the folk music archive that students in this class have helped digitize and curate, and also used to creative digital projects. Taught by Michael Kramer (History).

(Additional instructional support for digital humanities courses provided by the WCAS Multimedia Learning Center and Northwestern University Libraries: Information and Learning Services and Center for Scholarly Communication and Digital Curation.)

NUDHL returns in 2017 with a new slate of workshops, discussions, and lectures, which will explore the nature and role of interdisciplinary digital humanities research.


Digital Humanities Pedagogy Graduate Student Workshop
This workshop is a year-long collaborative learning experience dedicated to theoretical discussions, hands-on tool learning, guest faculty speakers, and course conceptualization. At the end of the workshop, each participant will have completed the design of a course syllabus.

Digital Humanities Research Grant
The Digital Humanities Research Grant is intended to enable PhD students in the humanities to access specialized humanities-based training in digital modes, methods, and tools. Awards up to $2,500 are granted for training in digital technologies (e.g., text encoding and analysis, data visualization, programming and coding languages, games and gaming, multimodal narrative and platforms, etc.) and to attend conferences/workshops with a strong digital humanities component that directly support dissertation research.