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Digital Humanities Courses

Digital mapping, video and audio recording, multimedia podcasting, online publishing and digital analysis: these are just some of the skills that students can acquire as they explore in-depth and intensive interdisciplinary humanities seminars.

Digital Humanities courses

front view of The Field Museum in ChicagoANCIENT ROME IN CHICAGO
HUM 325-6 / CLASSICS 390-0
Professor: Francesca Tataranni (Classics; Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished University Professor of Instruction Award)
Winner of an Alumnae of Northwestern Curriculum Development Award

Taught Fall quarters 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Ancient Rome is visible in Chicago — walk the city and learn to “read” the streets, buildings, and monuments that showcase Chicago’s engagement with the classical past! You’ll gain digital mapping and video editing skills as you collaborate on a virtual walking tour mapping Chicago’s ongoing dialogue with antiquity. With a combination of experiential learning and rigorous research methodologies, you’ll explore architecture, history, visual arts, and urban topography in this quintessential modern American city.

(Additional instructional support provided by Weinberg's MAD Studio and Northwestern University Libraries: Center for Scholarly Communication & Digital Curation)

spinning CDART, WRITING, TECHNOLOGY: NEW APPROACHES TO THE DIGITAL HUMANITIES
HUM 370-6 / ENGLISH 311-0
Professor: Danny Snelson (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities and English)

Taught Spring quarters 2016 and 2017.

Click for the Chalk Saroyan Instagram site from Spring 2017: https://www.instagram.com/chalksaroyan/

Environmental Catastrophe image for Chicago Humanities Festival talkCULTURAL CRITICISM AND THE CONTEMPORARY MUSEUM
HUM 325-6 / HISTORY 393-0 / AMER_ST 310 / ART 372-0
Professor: Michael Kramer (History)

Taught Fall 2016.

What is the history of cultural and arts criticism in the United States? Where is it headed today? This course combines historical examination with fieldwork at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Students will read extensively in the history of cultural criticism while experimenting with new, digital modes of writing, and engage in discussion of readings, films, artworks, digital projects, performances and educational events.

photo from Berkeley Folk Music FestivalDIGITIZING FOLK MUSIC HISTORY
HUM 325-4 / HISTORY 395

Professor: Michael Kramer (Visiting Assistant Professor in History)
Winner of an Alumnae of Northwestern Curriculum Development Award

Taught Winter 2016, Winter 2017, and Fall 2017.

The United States folk music revival is typically thought of as an anti-technological movement, however to study it through digital means suggests more connections between the history of the revival and contemporary digital issues than might first meet the eye (or ear!). In this research seminar, students examine the history of the US folk music revival through readings, audio listening, documentary films, seminar discussions, and, most of all, extensive digital analysis. We probe what was at stake in the folk revival in relation to American culture and politics; questions of race, class, gender, age, and region; and the strange workings of music-making, memory, and power. As we do so, we ask how digital technologies might help us to interpret history more meaningfully; simultaneously, we explore how both the folk revival itself and the methods of historical study might be crucial to more effectively understanding our contemporary digital moment. Among other digital resources, students will use the Berkeley Folk Music Festival Collection, which is housed in Northwestern's Special Collections Library and contains a rich trove of materials about the folk revival. No previous digital or musical training is required for the course. Students will create weekly digital mini-project experiments and a final multimedia interpretive digital history podcast. (Additional instructional support provided by the Weinberg's MAD Studio.)

 

stack of hot pink books falling overPRINT-ON-DEMAND POETRY: MAKING BOOKS AFTER THE INTERNET
HUM 325-6 / ENGLISH 311-0
Professor: Danny Snelson (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities and English)

Taught Fall 2015 and Winter 2017.

When the written word overtook the Homeric epic poem, poetry became less about communicating information and more about lyric expression. Recently, digital technologies have been seen to present this same challenge to the book—like poetry, it isn’t dead, but may have lost its claim as the primary source of information. Yet due to digital Print-on-Demand (POD) platforms, it has never been easier for writers to publish (beyond Twitter and Facebook)! In this course, we will study the emergence of innovative forms of writing under the influence of digital networks, and experiment with POD in a series of collaborative and independent scholarly projects. From Seth Siegelaub’s The Xerox Book (1968) to works of POD poetry published throughout the quarter, we’ll examine poetry alongside developments in print technologies through seminar conversations, online threads and publication workshops. No previous experience with either poetry or publishing is required! All students will publish books about poetry made on the internet.

skull imprinted with map of the worldSHAKESPEARE'S CIRCUITS: GLOBAL, LOCAL, DIGITAL
HUM 325-6 / ENGLISH 339
Professors: Wendy Wall (Humanities and English; Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence) and Will West (Classics and English)

Taught Winter 2016.

What can you do with Shakespeare’s plays? Perform them, behold them, read them, interpret them, imitate them, adapt them? Track them as they travel the globe and mutate into new forms? Shakespeare’s infinite variety—in diverse applications—has travelled everywhere: in Renaissance London and Germany, nineteenth and twentieth century India, South Africa before and after apartheid, Israel, modern China. In this class we will reflect on the unique position of Shakespeare in cultures of the world at every scale, from local to global, and through a range of media—from the digital to traditional forms like print, theater, or opera. Learning in this course will take place in the classroom, the computer lab, and spaces for experiencing Shakespeare around Chicago, from rare book rooms at the Newberry Library, to the Lyric Opera and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Students will discuss The Tempest, Othello, and The Merchant of Venice not only in Shakespeare’s time but across the globe in many eras and in many media (visual arts, film, print, and performing arts). Our study will culminate with students collaborating to create a digital interactive map of Shakespeare’s influences over time and across the globe. (Additional instructional support provided by the Weinberg's MAD Studio and Northwestern University Libraries: Information and Learning Services)

graphic for Technologies of Language courseTECHNOLOGIES OF LANGUAGE
HUM 325-5
Jules Law (English; Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence)

Taught Winter 2017.

What if language were the true measuring stick of the world? What if the deep structure of the world itself were linguistic? What if syntax were the true nature of time? Grammar the underlying structure of logic? Our ideas of body and soul simply mirrors of the distinction between literal and metaphoric meaning? In this course we will survey some of the most important theories and philosophies of language from the last century, from Saussure to post-structuralism, with detours through Freud and Wittgenstein. At the heart of our inquiry will be the question of what it means to think of language as the technology that produces humans, and to think of the units of language as the units of the world. Finally, we will consider the most pressing issue facing language today: its digitization. How has the digitization of our cultural heritage changed the nature of the game? What is preserved and what is lost when an old book is “translated” to a digital archive? And are these problems and question continuous with ones that have always attended language, or are we confronting a profoundly new phenomenon here? For a final project in this class, students will each choose one book from the library’s Special Collections, and consider the technical and philosophic problems in converting that book in all its uniqueness and idiosyncrasies into a digital object (Additional instructional support provided by the Weinberg's MAD Studio and Northwestern University Libraries: Information and Learning Services) 

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