Readings are due on the dates indicated. Readings not linked to online can be found on our Blackboard site on the Course Readings page.

We will start Labs in class, unless otherwise indicated.

I reserve the right to change the course calendar as needed; advance notice will be given of any changes.

Download a PDF of the syllabus here.

Texts as Data

Wednesday, January 6

  • Introductions

Monday, January 11: What is a text? What is data?

  • Yin Liu, “Ways of Reading, Models for Text, and the Usefulness of Dead People” (2013)
  • Lisa Gitelman and Virginia Jackson, “Introduction” from Raw Data is an Oxymoron (2013)

Wednesday, January 13: Texts as Data 1 — HTML

  • NO CLASS TODAY: Instructor out of town. Read the following materials and complete Lab 1a by class next Wednesday, Jan 20.
  • Wikipedia on Markup languages, read Introduction, History, HTML, and Features sections
  • Alan Liu, “Transcendental Data: Toward a Cultural History and Aesthetics of the New Encoded Discourse” (2004), read pgs 49-63 only
  • W3School’s HTML Tutorial, read Introduction – Quotations, Links – Images; try lessons on own as needed
  • Lab 1a: HTML encoding

Monday, January 18: NO CLASS — MLK JR DAY

  • Read through half of Only Revolutions by today
    • As you read, write down at least 5 patterns that you notice. Write down what each pattern is and 3-5 pages on which individual instances of the pattern occur. Bring the document where you note your patterns to class on the days we discuss the novel.
    • Resources to help you read the novel: N. Katherine Hayles’s Only Revolutions Commentary; VizOR

Tuesday, January 19

  • Make-up office hours from 1:30-3:00 pm for help with Lab 1a

Wednesday, January 20: NO CLASS — Instructor out of town 

  • Last day to drop without a W

Monday, January 25: Texts as Data 2 — TEI

Methods of Text Analysis

Wednesday, January 27: Close Reading 1 — Only Revolutions

  • Mark Z. Danielewski, Only Revolutions: Need to have read the entire novel by today

Monday, February 1: Close Reading 2 — Only Revolutions

  • **Lab 1b due by class: EXTRA CREDIT LAB


Wednesday, February 3: Close Reading 3

  • _Only Revolutions, _con’t
  • Jonathan Culler, “The Closeness of Close Reading” (2010)
  • John Guillory, “Close Reading: Prologue and Epilogue” (2010)

Monday, February 8: Close Reading 4

  • Only Revolutions, con’t
  • N. Katherine Hayles, Ch. 3: “How We Read: Close, Hyper, Machine,” from How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis (2012)
  • Lab 2: Machine-assisted reading with pre-packaged tools
    • Recommended: Stephen Ramsay, “Toward an Algorithmic Criticism” (2003)

Wednesday, February 10: Distant Reading 1 — Why use computers to analyze texts?

Monday, February 15: Distant Reading 2 — How to find digital texts

Wednesday, February 17: The Concordance and Corpus Linguistics

  • Wikipedia on Concordance
  • Religious literature concordances:
  • Literature concordances:
  • Michaela Mahlberg, “Corpus Linguistics and the Study of Nineteenth-Century Fiction” (2010)
  • Download and install before class: 
    • Antconc: Your computer may tell you that Antconc can’t be opened because it’s not from a trusted developer. If you have a Windows machine, just choose to open it anyway. If you have a Mac, the first time you go to open Antconc, press control and then click on the Antconc icon (the equivalent in Macs to right-clicking). Your computer will ask you if you really want to open Antconc since it’s not from a trusted developer; click “Open.”
  • Lab 4: Corpus Analysis with Antconc

Monday, February 22: Topic Modeling 1

Wednesday, February 24: Topic Modeling 2

  • Lab 4 due by class
  • Matthew Jockers, Ch. 8 “Theme,” Macroanalysis (2013), read pgs 124-153
  • Matthew Jockers, “500 Themes from a corpus of 19th-Century Fiction” (interactive site for exploring Jockers’ topic modeling; explore)
  • Download and open the Topic Modeling Tool (we will use this for Lab 5a next Monday)
    • Download the file from the link provided in step 1 on this page: Save this file somewhere easily accessible on your computer (like the Desktop — you will need to find it again).
    • Try to run _the file by double-clicking it. This should bring the program interface up. If this doesn’t work (if nothing happens, or if your computer _opens or decompresses__ _the .jar file so that you see a bunch of folders and files, but doesn’t _run the program), you probably need to install Java on your computer. We’re going to install the Java Development Kit, which will save you time for Lab 6b. Here’s how to do that:
    • If you have a Mac:
      • Open up System Preferences. If you have Java 7 or above installed on your computer, you should see the Java icon in the very bottom row. If you don’t see it, go to Applications > Utilities in Finder. If you see a “Java Preferences” option there, you have Java 6 installed on your computer. Either should work for this tool. Try double-clicking on the Topic Modeling Tool again. Email me if this isn’t working, but if you seem to have Java installed on your computer.
      • If you don’t see either of those things, you don’t have Java installed on your computer. Here’s how to install the Java Development Kit (JDK):
      • After installing Java, try double-clicking on the Topic Modeling Tool .jar files again to run it. If your computer tells you that it can’t open the file because it’s not from a trusted developer, go find the file on your Desktop (or wherever you have saved it) and press Control while clicking on the file (the equivalent in Macs to right-clicking). Select “Open with” and then “Jar launcher” (or whatever program is the default option — do NOT open it with an extractor or unzipper, though). This should open the program interface.
      • Email me if this doesn’t work.
    • If you have a Windows machine:

Monday, February 29: Topic Modeling 3

  • Explore Matthew Wilkens’s 100-topic model of 1,543 novels published in the United States between 1774 and 1875:
    • Read the “About” page.
    • Using the “Overview” view (Grid or List), choose one topic to investigate further. Write down the top 5 novels associated with that topic, and when (what year/years) that topic was most prominent in the corpus historically.
    • Using the “Bibliography” view, choose one novel to investigate in more detail (or choose one of the novels included in the topic you investigated in the previous step). Ideally, this should be a novel that you’ve read. Click on the novel title to see its top topics. Write down its top 3-5 topics.
    • Building off of these initial investigations (or others), explore the model more and start to “close read” its topics (like we discussed in class on Wed, Feb 24). Write down anything else you find that is interesting or surprising. For example, does one topic dominate your chosen novel over the others? Does one topic dominate a particular historical period in the corpus over others? Why might this be so? Does one topic seem especially “incoherent” or hard to interpret? Why? What might this topic mean? Take some time to write down your thoughts.
    • Bring the document where you’ve written about the model to class, and come to class ready to talk about what you’ve investigated.
  • Lab 5a: Topic modeling with pre-packaged tools — Everyone must complete Lab 5a

Wednesday, March 2: Topic Modeling 4

Monday, March 7: Network Analysis 1

Wednesday, March 9: Network Analysis 2

Thursday, March 10

  • Extended office hours from 1:30 – 3 pm for help with downloading and installing Gephi

Friday, March 11

March 14 – 18: NO CLASS — SPRING BREAK


Monday, March 21: Network Analysis 3

Wednesday, March 23: Data Visualization 1

Friday, March 25 

Monday, March 28: Data Visualization 2

Class Project Development

Wednesday, March 30

  • Work on final project

Monday, April 4

  • Lab 7 due by class
  • Work on final project

Wednesday, April 6

  • Work on final project

Monday, April 11

  • Work on final project

Wednesday, April 13

  • Work on final project

Monday, April 18

  • Work on final project

Wednesday, April 20

  • Work on final project

Friday, April 22

  • Class final project due by 10 pm

Finals week: Individual digital methods paper due by Tuesday, April 26 by 10 pm to Blackboard