Digital humanities

Maintained by: David J. Birnbaum ( [Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 Unported License] Last modified: 2019-02-16T15:44:29+0000

Syllabus: Spring 2019 (2194)

Getting started

Download and install the following software on your home computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux).

All users:

Windows users:

Mac users:

Linux users:

Date Coding Scholarship Homework and tests due next time
Mon, 01-07
  • Introduction to XML: hierarchy, well-formedness, elements and attributes
  • The <oXygen/> XML editor and IDE
  • Gazpacho recipe
  • What is Digital Humanities?
  • If you haven’t done so already, install <oXygen/> on your personal computer, and described in the Getting started list at the top of the page
  • Read An even gentler introduction to XML
  • XML exercise 1: Copy the text of one letter by either Oscar Wilde or Anton Chekhov and mark it up in XML using <oXygen/>, employing whatever markup you consider appropriate. In this and all other assignments, follow our file-naming conventions.
Wed, 01-09
  • Types of markup: descriptive, presentational, procedural
Fri, 01-11
  • XML exercise 3: Mark up a different text of your choice (any genre; manageable but reasonable size; foreign languages welcome)
  • 300- to 400-word response paper to Aesop’s fables or My immortal, following the same guidelines as for the previous response paper
  • Read Karl Stolley’s Lo-Fi Manifesto and think about why Lo-Fi matters.
Mon, 01-14 XML review
  • 300- to 400-word response paper to Perseus or Melville, concentrating on the user experience (UX). What sorts of research does the site support, and how effectively does it provide that support?
  • Read Introduction to Relax NG
  • Prepare for the XML in-class test on Wed, 01-16
Wed, 01-16
  • Relax NG exercise 1: Write a Relax NG schema for one of the XML documents you created for an earlier assignment (XML exercise 1, 2, or 3) and upload both your XML and your schema file
Fri, 01-18
  • Relax NG
  • Relax NG exercise 2: Choose a small text, perform document analysis, write a schema, mark up the text according to the schema, and upload both your XML and your schema file
  • Read and follow along with Rebecca Parker’s Guide to Git shell, which will likely be your first experience at the command line. Submit a 300- to 400-word reflection paper on the experience, outlining your troubles, successes, and questions about Git and Github. Don’t be disheartened if you run into problems (we did, too!); by the end of the semester you’ll have professional-quality Git and GitHub expertise.
Mon, 01-21 Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday observance (University closed)
Wed, 01-23
  • Project guidelines
  • GitHub for project management
  • Markdown
  • 300- to 400-word response paper to Blake or Rossetti. These are primarily archive or portal sites, designed to provide enhanced access to materials, rather than to support specific research questions. How well do they achieve their goals?
  • Post, as a new issue to the course GitHub site, a 300- to 400-word tentative/exploratory project proposal: text (which must be free of copyright restrictions), approach, research question, and (if known) possible participants (use the Label feature on GitHub to label it as a project proposal). Note the Styling with Markdown is supported link at the bottom of the Issues interface, where you can look up Markdown formatting (it’s fine to keep it simple for now). All course projects must be undertaken by teams of two or more persons, but this initial, exploratory proposal is an individual assignment.
Fri, 01-25
drop deadline
  • Relax NG exercise 3: Choose a small text of a different type or genre than last time, perform document analysis, write a schema, mark up the text according to the schema, and upload both your XML and your schema file
  • Read everyone else’s project proposals and be prepared on Mon, 01-28 to form project teams.
  • Read regex mini-tutorial at
Mon, 01-28
  • Form project teams, appoint a project owner (typically the proposal author)
  • Regular expressions (Recipe)
  • Multipurposing
  • Regex exercise 1
  • Read Regex tips (ignore the XSLT section for now, and read the rest to acquaint yourself with what’s there, but don’t try to memorize it all at once)
  • All students should read GitHub for project management and, if you are the project owner, follow along with and complete the following tasks:
    • Add all project team members and instructors as project collaborators (SettingsCollaborators; instructor GitHub usernames are danakaufhold, djbpitt, enb34, gabikeane, and zme1)
    • Add a descriptive file to your repo.
    • Create an issue on our course GitHub site that describes and links to your project repo.
Wed, 01-30
  • Text analysis and data mining
  • Regex exercise 2
  • Read the TEI header section (Chapter 2) of TEI P5 and submit a 300- to 400-word response paper. The TEI header is about metadata, that is, information about the document. How will you handle metadata (what type of information, how will be it be encoded or represented) in your project?
  • Standing assignments beginning today:
    1. Project Update: (due Fridays) Each project team must post and label at least one project update each week as a New Issue in their project repo (at least one posting per team, not per person, although more are welcome) before Friday’s class. These postings should be brief but informative status reports about your projects: what you accomplished in the preceding week, what you learned, where you got stuck, etc., as well was what you plan to do in the upcoming week. Reports should address both the state of the project in general and the specific weekly contributions of each of the individual team members. All postings should reference (and, where appropriate, link into) content from the team's GitHub repository.
    2. Project Comment: (due Mondays) Each person must read all of the new project Issue postings and responses each week and post at least one thoughtful Project Comment per week in response to another team’s weekly Project Update status report (comment, question, observation, suggestion, etc.) by the following Monday’s class.

      To post your Project Comment, navigate to the update posted by the other team in their project repo (not in our general course repo). Click on the issue, and you’ll be able to post a new comment so that it will be attached to the issue itself.

      These responses can be brief, but they should be thoughtful, something more than nice job! or very interesting! You might make a suggestion, offer a critique, ask (or answer) a question, discuss how something in someone else’s blog posting gives you an idea of something to do on your own project, report on a resource you discovered that might be useful for the other team, etc.

    3. Class Discussion Post: (due Wednesdays) Each person must review all new postings on the course GitHub site and make at least one thoughtful contribution before Wednesday’s class each week, either in the form of an Issue response or the creation of a new Issue. Ask a question, answer a question, make a suggestion, pass along a link to a site that showed you something you could use in your project (and explain what it is and why it was useful), etc. On a few occasions during the semester, you will be asked instead to participate in a single-issue discussion on GitHub, which will fulfill this requirement for that week. These single-issue discussions must reflect thoughtful and original consideration of both the subject at hand and responses by other students.

    Project Updates and Project Comments go on the project-specific repo. Class Disccusion Posts go on our course GitHub site.

Fri, 02-01
  • TEI exercise 1
  • Read HTML basics
  • Read Putting content on line
  • Project Comment: Visit the GitHub repos for all of the other class projects (the project owners will have posted links at course GitHub site ), read each project description (the files), and post a brief comment about one of the research proposals as a new Issue in their repo.
Mon, 02-04
  • Obdurodon accounts
  • The Web, part 1: HTML, XHTML, HTML5, CSS, Unicode
  • Metadata
  • Read Introduction to cascading stylesheets (CSS)
  • HTML/CSS exercise 1: Create and upload your first HTML and CSS pages to Obdurodon (note the additional instructions about formatting, naming, and uploading your files); focus on style
  • Single-Issue Class Discussion Post: Since your first encounter with the command line and GitHub, how has your understanding of these technologies changed? What obstacles still affect your understanding of its use? On GitHub specifically, which features stand out as useful tools for your project team? How would you plan to implement them? Which features do you want to learn more about?
Wed, 02-06
  • Guest lecture by Shea Higgins (UHC) on web design and user experience (UX)
  • Web design
  • Read Learn CSS layout
  • Read one chapter from either Part I or Part II of Visual usability: principles and practices for designing digital applications by Tania Schlatter and Deborah Levinson (available on-line through the Pitt library) and submit a 300- to 400-word response paper. Concentrate in your response paper on how you might apply what you’ve read to the design of your own project site.
  • Prepare for the Relax NG test on Fri, 02-08
  • Project Update
Fri, 02-08
  • The Web, part 2: SSI, JavaScript, PHP, database servers
Mon, 02-11
  • HTML/CSS exercise 2: Enhance and expand your HTML web page and associated CSS from the last assignment (focus this time on structural elements) and upload them as new files with new names (see the additional instructions about formatting, naming, and uploading your files). Do not overwrite your files from the first HTML assignment.
  • Single-Issue Class Discussion Post: Explore Orbis, designed to explore the economic geography of the ancient Roman world, with attention to more than distance. Contribute to the GitHub Issue in response to both research and design aspects of the site.
Wed, 02-13
  • Geographic information systems (GIS)
  • Read Mining the Dispatch: introduction (the whole page under the Introduction tab; not just the few paragraphs headed Introduction) and submit a 300- to 400-word response paper. Topic modeling is a tool that operates on plain text to provide descriptive statistical information. How might it play a role in your project?
  • Prepare for the Regex test on Fri, 02-15
  • Project Update
Fri, 02-15
Mon, 02-18
  • XPath: predicates
  • Namespaces
Wed, 02-20
  • XPath: predicates and functions
  • Digital Humanities associations and conferences
Fri, 02-22
  • XPath: predicates and functions
  • Looking stuff up: XPath functions and operators in Michael Kay
  • The XML family of standards
Mon, 02-25
  • Schematron
Wed, 02-27
  • Schematron
Fri, 03-01
  • Schematron
Mon, 03-04
  • XSLT and XPath Overview
Wed, 03-06
  • XSLT templates
  • XPaths and XPath patterns
  • The digital workstation
Fri, 03-08
  • XSLT program structure and design
  • XSLT push and pull
  • Take-home midterm instructions
  • Test #5 (Schematron) due Mon, 03-18
  • Read Attribute value templates
  • XSLT exercise 3
  • Bring Michael Kay book to class on Mon, 03-18
  • Take-home midterm will be due Mon, 03-25
  • Project Comment due Mon, 03-18
Mon, 03-11
Wed, 03-13
Fri, 03-15
Spring recess
Mon, 03-18
  • XSLT
  • Looking stuff up: XSLT elements in Michael Kay
Wed, 03-20
  • XSLT
  • The digital workstation
Fri, 03-22
  • Guest lecture by Elisa Beshero-Bonder (Pitt Greensburg) on social networks
  • Social networks
Mon, 03-25
  • Midterm due
  • XSLT Review
Wed, 03-27
  • Guest lecture by Patrick Juola (Duquesne University) on stylometry
  • Stylometry
  • Prepare for the XSLT test on Fri, 03-29
  • Project Update
Fri, 03-29
  • SVG
  • Test #6 (XSLT)
  • Work through the w3schools SVG tutorial to complete the SVG basic and SVG shapes pages. Filters, gradients, examples, and reference are optional.
  • SVG exercise 1
  • Project Comment
Mon, 04-01
  • SVG
  • SVG exercise 2 (Remember that you should be uploading the XSLT stylesheet that you used to transform your document, not the raw SVG)
  • Single-Issue Class Discussion Post: Read The hermeneutics of screwing around or In praise of pattern and contribute to the Discussion Issue. These essays describe how research methods in a digital environment may differ from research methods elsewhere in humanities scholarship. In what ways are Steve’s arguments persuasive (or not)?
Wed, 04-03
  • SVG
  • SVG exercise 3
  • 300- to 400-word response paper to Zelda, Rap, or Lega that focuses on visualization. Are the graphic representations suitable for the data? If yes, why? If not, what could they have used instead?
  • Project Update
Fri, 04-05
  • XQuery
Mon, 04-08
  • XQuery and databases
Wed, 04-10
  • Comparing XQuery and XSLT
Fri, 04-12
  • XQuery
Mon, 04-15
  • Project Workshop
  • Class Discussion Post (last one)
Wed, 04-17
  • Project presentations
  • Prepare for the XQuery test on Fri, 04-19
  • Project Update (last one)
Fri, 04-19
Last day of class
  • Project presentations
  • Test #8 (XQuery), due Mon, 04-22
  • Project Comment (last one; please take this opportunity to reflect on, make suggestions for, and bounce ideas off your classmates on their project Issue Boards based on their presentations)
Mon, 04-22,
XQuery test due
Fri, 04-26,
Projects due