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Digital Humanities

 

MALS students take four classes within the program—Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies, two core courses in their chosen track, and the thesis—and choose their remaining electives from among all courses offered across the doctoral and certificate programs at the Graduate Center.

 

 

MALS Track in Digital Humanities
The digital humanities is an emerging field of scholarly endeavor that has come into prominence in recent years. Defined broadly as the application of digital technologies to humanities scholarship and teaching, the digital humanities involves a range of approaches that include algorithmic literary criticism, new models of “distant reading,” the use of network theory to examine historical events, the digital encoding and analysis of archival manuscripts, the incorporation of geospatial data into scholarly projects, the uses of social media and networked platforms to enhance classroom instruction, among others. The field, as a whole, explores the ways in which traditional scholarly activities are being reshaped by the new methodologies made possible through data-driven inquiry.

The two core courses in the DH track introduce students to broad trends in DH scholarship and give them practical experience in using DH methods and tools. This mix of theoretically informed analysis with hands-on practice reflects the popular sentiment that DH is, at least in part, about building. After taking the two core courses in the track and the introductory MALS course, students will be able to pursue deeper knowledge in a particular humanities discipline. In their thesis projects, students will take advantage of this mix of specialized discipline-specific knowledge and research methodologies to create projects that will be of value to the larger digital humanities community.

The MALS track in digital humanities builds upon already-existing digital humanities projects at the CUNY Graduate Center, including the CUNY Digital Humanities Initiative, the CUNY Academic Commons, the Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate Program, the New Media Lab, and the American Social History Project. By allowing MALS students to explore both digital humanities methodologies and to apply those methodologies to a humanities field of their choosing, the track enables graduates to apply for a broad range of jobs upon graduation.

Core Courses

 

MALS 75400 Introduction to the Digital Humanities

Course Description:
The dramatic growth of the Digital Humanities (DH) over the past half dozen years has helped scholars re-imagine the very nature and forms of academic research across a range of scholarly disciplines, encompassing the arts, the interpretive social sciences as well as traditional humanities subject areas. DH has re-shaped the very boundaries and parameters of interdisciplinary scholarship, teaching and library practices in the twenty-first century academy. This initial core course will explore the history of the digital humanities, focusing especially on diverse pioneering projects and core texts that catapulted to prominence this innovative methodological and conceptual approach to scholarly inquiry. The course will also emphasize the ways in which DH has helped transform the nature of academic teaching and pedagogy in the contemporary university with its emphasis on collaborative, student-centered and digital learning environments and approaches. Students will be introduced to important technical skills and tools–including metadata tagging and visualization, database, digital markup, and social networking software (including blogs and wikis)—that will help them undertake their own digital humanities work in subsequent courses in the program. The course will also take up broad social, legal and ethical questions and concerns surrounding digital media and contemporary culture, including privacy, intellectual property, and open/public access to knowledge and scholarship.

Rationale:
This initial course exposes new MA in DH students to the emerging and rapidly changing field of Digital Humanities, allowing them to explore a range of interdisciplinary approaches to academic research and teaching. Exposure to diverse DH projects and core texts will encourage students to rethink the nature of academic inquiry at the same time as they begin to master a range of essential digital tools that they will use in their own scholarly endeavors. A focus on understanding and using DH tools and methodologies will help students define the nature of their subsequent DH work in the program and in the field.

Learning Goals and Outcomes:
Upon successful completion of the course, students will:
• possess familiarity with major readings in the field of digital humanities;
• apprehend basic computational approaches to research and teaching used in the digital humanities;
• have explored a representative range of prominent DH projects; and
• have explored the broad social, legal and ethical questions and concerns surrounding digital media and contemporary culture, including privacy, intellectual property, and open/public access to knowledge and scholarship.

MALS 75500 Digital Humanities Methods and Practices

Course Description:
This course provides a broad, applied introduction to the methods and practices involved in digital humanities scholarship and teaching. Background readings will orient students to the theoretical and methodological considerations involved in various DH-centered approaches, and each section of the course will include a hands-on introduction to tools and practices that enable such approaches to be used in digital humanities projects. Sample units include algorithmic approaches to text, network analysis, data visualization, TEI markup, geospatial inquiry and display, interactive pedagogy, open scholarship and peer-to-peer review, material analysis of digital objects, comparative approaches to archival texts, and new approaches to archival collections.

Rationale:
Following the broad introduction to the digital humanities offered in the first core course in the track, this “Methods and Practices” course will help students put their ideas into practice and begin digging into DH analysis. As a field, the digital humanities emphasizes hands-on work; a course that moves students from the study of the contours of the field into its source code is in keeping with the nature of the discipline. It will provide a broad base of approaches that students can continue to explore as they take classes in a discipline of their choice from the Graduate Center’s offerings, and it will help orient students to a range of possible approaches that they might take as part of their MALS thesis project. No coding experience is required to take the course.

Learning Goals and Outcomes:
Upon successful completion of the course, students will have been introduced to a range of analytic approaches used in digital humanities projects, have an understanding of the types of skills needed to complete digital humanities research projects and digital teaching approaches, have moved from theoretical and methodological considerations towards applied digital-humanities work, and have begun thinking about the kinds of projects they might like to explore in their MALS thesis project.

 

Questions about the MALS track in Digital Humanities may be directed to liberalstudies@gc.cuny.edu.