Readings are due on the dates indicated. Readings not linked to online can be found on our Blackboard site on the Course Readings page. “Background” readings are recommended, not required; they shed additional light on required readings and can also act as additional resources for your work in the class.

We will start Labs during the last hour of 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.

Monday, January 11: Introductions


Monday, January 18: NO CLASS — MLK JR DAY

Monday, January 25: Scales of Reading

  • Lorraine Daston, “Whither Critical Inquiry?” (2004)
  • Jonathan Culler, “The Closeness of Close Reading” (2010)
  • Franco Moretti, selections from Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History (2005), read pages 1-33, 91-92
  • Methodological Analysis: Julie Orlemanski, “Scales of Reading” (2014)
    • Everyone must complete this Methodological Analysis
  • Stephen Ramsay, Ch. 1: “An Algorithmic Criticism,” from Reading Machines (2011)

Lab 1: Finding and Collecting Digital Texts


  • John Guillory, “Close Reading: Prologue and Epilogue” (2010)
  • Heather Love, “Close but not Deep: Literary Ethics and the Descriptive Turn” (2010)
  • Stephen Best and Sharon Marcus, “Surface Reading: An Introduction” (2009)
  • Katherine Hayles, Ch. 3: “How We Read: Close, Hyper, Machine,” from How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis (2012)

Monday, February 1: Texts as Data

  • Lab 1 due by class
  • Lisa Gitelman and Virginia Jackson, “Introduction” from Raw Data is an Oxymoron (2013)
  • Yin Liu, “Ways of Reading, Models for Text, and the Usefulness of Dead People” (2013)
  • Michael Witmore, “Text: A Massively Addressable Object” (2010)
  • Alan Liu, “Transcendental Data: Toward a Cultural History and Aesthetics of the New Encoded Discourse” (2004), read pages 49-63 only
  • The Text Encoding Initiative, “A Gentle Introduction to XML”
  • Susan Schreibman, “Digital Scholarly Editing,” from Literary Studies in the Digital Age: An Evolving Anthology (2013)

Lab 2: TEI/XML Encoding


Monday, February 8: Text Analysis 1

  • Lab 2 due by class
  • Natalie M. Houston, “Text Analysis,” Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities__: Concepts, Models, and Experiments (2015-), read “Curatorial Statement” only
  • Franco Moretti, “The End of the Beginning: A Reply to Christopher Prendergast,” read pgs 83-86 only (start at “Knowledge, critique, self-critique”)
  • Ted Underwood, “We don’t already understand the broad outlines of literary history” (2013)
  • Matthew Jockers, Ch. 3 “Tradition” and Ch. 4 “Macroanalysis,” from Macroanalysis (2013)
  • Ted Underwood, “Where to start with text mining” (2012)
  • Methodological Analysis: Tanya Clement, “‘A thing not beginning and not ending’: using digital tools to distant-read Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans” (2008)

Lab 3: Text Analysis with R

  • Do step 1 of this lab before class
    • This step asks you to work through Ch. 1 of Jockers’ Text Analysis with R for Students of Literature (2014). In this chapter, you will download and install R and RStudio.


Monday, February 15: Text Analysis 2 — Topic Modeling

Lab 4: Topic Modeling 


  • Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Ch. 6: “Trained Judgment,” from Objectivity (2010)
  • David Mimno, “The Details,” talk given at MITH Topic Modeling Workshop, Nov 3, 2012

Monday, February 22: Text Analysis 3 — Topic Modeling, con’t

Lab 4: Topic Modeling, con’t

Monday, February 29: Network Analysis 1

Lab 5: Network Analysis


Monday, March 7: Network Analysis 2

  • Methodological Analysis: Richard Jean So and Hoyt Long, “Network Analysis and the Sociology of Modernism” (2013)
  • Methodological Analysis: Ryan Cordell, “Reprinting, Circulation, and the Network Author in Antebellum Newspapers” (2015)
    • If you’re interested in reading the methodological supplement to this paper, you can find it here.
  • Andrew Piper, “World Authorship: Three Computational Frameworks” (2014)
  • Explore the following projects that utilize network analysis:

Lab 5: Network Analysis, con’t

Friday, March 11 

  • Key Project Analysis due by 10 pm

Monday, March 14: NO CLASS — SPRING BREAK

Monday, March 21: Spatial Analysis

  • Lab 5 due by class
  • Jo Guldi, “What Is the Spatial Turn?”, read Introduction, The Spatial Turn in Literature, and at least one other disciplinary perspective
  • Nora Reynolds, Ch. 3: “Maps of the Everyday: Habitual Pathways and Contested Places,” from Geographies of Writing: Inhabiting Places and Encountering Difference (2004)
  • David J. Bodenhamer, “The Potential of Spatial Humanities,” from The Spatial Humanities: GIS and the Future of Humanities Scholarship (2010) (in Background readings folder)
  • Methodological Analysis: Matthew Wilkens, “The Geographic Imagination of Civil War-Era American Fiction” (2013)
  • Bethany Nowviskie, “Neatline & Visualization as Interpretation” (2014)

Lab 6: Mapping


Monday, March 28: What Have We Done?

Start work on final projects during lab time

Friday, April 1

  • Final project abstracts due via email to Prof Thomas by 10 pm

Monday, April 4

  • Work on final projects
  • Students meet with Prof Thomas about final projects

Monday, April 11

  • Work on final projects

Monday, April 18

  • Final project presentations
  • Work on final projects

Monday, April 25

  • Final project due by 10 pm