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Digital Humanities

Faculty in Digital Humanities

Digital Humanities (DH) began a few decades ago with the application of computer tools to problems in literary stylistics, text processing, and text linguistics (including corpus linguistics, machine translation, and other computational problems).  Today, the field is dominated by mark-up languages--the "ML" in HTML, SGML, UML, and XML--the meta-language used to "tag" writing for machine processing (searching, display) and thus the crucial new dimension of textual information in the 21st century. Content, however, is the real object of mark-up. Mark-up language is also closely related to "scripting," the specialized form of programming by means of which text operations are typically carried out on computers and Web pages are made to be interactive. Thus mark-up languages have become the means for an essentially new form of writing in which the medium and the message are more intimately and intricately interconnected than ever before, for literature and film, for language study, and for commercial applications.

DH in English considers both the technical aspects of the application of computer technology to the humanities, and also the appreciation and assessment of its products. Programming languages are typically taught in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, while mark up and humanities techniques like “Writing for the Web” are featured in DH. Students begin their training with Introduction to Humanities Computing, and may then follow their interests in a number of directions including interdisciplinary study. Notable DH projects in the department include:

Emma,<>, a suite of software applications for writers designed to foster a writing community in classrooms

The Linguistic Atlas Project,<>, the site through which the Atlas distributes text and audio materials related to American English, especially using GIS tools

DH students will have opportunities to participate in such research, in addition to opportunities for teaching experience. While all programs of study will necessarily include familiarity with at least one period of English literature, the flexibility of graduate requirements in English will allow students to follow their own interests in the selection of their coursework.

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