Programming for Humanists at TAMU [and Business Types]

Programming for Humanists at TAMU

From the webpage:

[What is DH?] Digital Humanities studies the intersection and mutual influence of humanities ideas and digital methods, with the goal of understanding how the use of digital technologies and approaches alters the practice and theory of humanities scholarship. In this sense it is concerned with studying the emergence of scholarly disciplines and communicative practices at a time when those are in flux, under the influence of rapid technological, institutional and cultural change. As a way of identifying digital interests and efforts within traditional humanities fields, the term “digital humanities” also identifies, in a general way, any kind of critical engagement with digital tools and methods in a humanities context. This includes the creation of digital editions and digital text or image collections, and the creation and use of digital tools for the investigation and analysis of humanities research materials. – Julia Flanders, Northeastern University (


Programming4Humanists is a two-semester course sequence designed to introduce participants to methodologies, coding, and programming languages associated with the Digital Humanities. We focus on creation, editing, and searchability of digital archives, but also introduce students to data mining and statistical analysis. Our forte at Texas A&M University (TAMU) is Optical Character Recognition of early modern texts, a skill we learned in completing the Early Modern OCR Project, or eMOP. Another strength that the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture ( at TAMU brings to this set of courses is the Texas A&M University Press book series called “Programming for Humanists.” We use draft and final versions of these books, as well as many additional resources available on companion web pages, for participants in the workshop. The books in this series are of course upon publication available to anyone, along with the companion sites, whether the person has participated in the workshop or not. However, joining the Programming4Humanists course enables participants to communicate with the authors of these books for the sake of asking questions and indeed, through their questioning, helping us to improve the books and web materials. Our goal is to help people learn Digital Humanities methods and techniques.


Those who should attend include faculty, staff, librarians, undergraduates, and graduate students, interested in making archival and cultural materials available to a wide audience while encoding them digitally according to best practices, standards that will allow them to submit their digital editions for peer review by organizations such as the MLA Committee for Scholarly Edition and NINES / 18thConnect. Librarians will be especially interested in learning our OCR procedures as a means for digitizing large archives. Additionally, scholars, students, and librarians will receive an introduction to text mining and XQuery, the latter used for analyzing semantically rich data sets. This course gives a good overview of what textual and archival scholars are accomplishing in the field of Digital Humanities, even though the course is primarily concerned with teaching skills to participants. TAMU graduate and undergraduate students may take this course for 2 credit hours, see Schedule of Classes for Fall 2015: LBAR 489 or 689 Digital Scholarship and Publication.


No prior knowledge is required but some familiarity with TEI/XML, HTML, and CSS will be helpful (See previous Programming 4 Humanists course syllabus). Certificate registrants will receive certificates confirming that they have a working knowledge of Drupal, XSLT, XQuery, and iPython Notebooks. Registration for those getting a certificate includes continued access to all class videos during the course period and an oXygen license. Non-certificate registrants will have access to the class videos for one week.

Everything that Julia says is true and this course will be very valuable for traditional humanists.

It will also be useful for business types who aren’t quants or CS majors/minors. The same “friendly” learning curve is suitable to both audiences.

You won’t be a “power user” at the end of this course but you will sense when CS folks are blowing smoke. It happens.

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