Literary scholars have long studied the linguistic, bibliographic, and social codes of texts, but in recent years new technologies have greatly expanded how those texts can be explored, both in research and the classroom. One can discuss a book, a chapter, a line, or a single word: or one can model patterns across entire corpora. In “Texts, Maps, Networks,” we will investigate both the affordances and potential pitfalls of digital research methods and pedagogy, from encoding and text mining to mapping and network analysis. Our class sessions will balance theory and praxis, moving between discussion of readings and humanities labs. We will explore questions such as:
- How does digital literary studies relate to fields such as bibliography, history of the book, and media studies?
- What debates are (re)shaping digital humanities (DH) in its current moment of growth?
- What are the central theories that have led literary scholars to experiment with computational, geospatial, and network methodologies?
- How can mapping and other visualization tools illuminate literature, history, writing, and other humanities subjects? How might they obscure those same subjects?
- How might these new modes of research and publication influence our teaching?
No prior technical expertise is expected or required to take the course, but students should be willing to experiment with new technical skills. For more about my expectations for students, see the course’s Caveat emptor.