Course Descriptions

The Digital Studies courses provide a solid technical foundation for further humanistic work on digital projects. Below are the required courses for the M.A. degree and undergraduate minor.

Electives are fulfilled through the departments and courses of the Humanities Division. Note that the particular electives on offer will vary from year to year and some courses may have prerequisites. Examples of potentially suitable courses include:

CMST 25204 Media Ecology: Embodiment & Software
CMST 27110 Digital Cinema
CMST 27815 Introduction to Art, Technology, and Media
CMST 27920 Virtual Reality Production
ENGL 25980 Technorelations: Intimacy, Bodies, Machines  
ENGL 25990 Always Already New - Printed Books & Electronic Texts     
GEOG 20500 Introduction to Spatial Data Science    
GEOG 28201 Intro to Geographic Information Systems 
HIPS 25205 Computers, Minds, Intelligence & Data    
HIST 25415 History of Information
HIST 25425 Censorship, Info Control, & Revolutions in Info Technology from the Printing Press to the Internet
HIST 29523 Data History: Information Overload from the Enlightenment to Google 
LING 28600 Computational Linguistics 
MUSI 26618 Electronic Music I

Courses

DIGS 20001/30001. Introduction to Computer Programming. 100 Units.
In this course, students learn computer programming and computational concepts using the Python programming language. The Python programming exercises involve topics in mathematics and statistics covered in DIGS 20002 and are designed to reinforce comprehension of those topics; thus it is recommended that DIGS 20001/30001 and DIGS 20002/30002 be taken in the same quarter, if possible. No prior background in computing is required for this course. For students who are, or who have been, UChicago undergraduates, the following Computer Science courses may be substituted for this course: CMSC 12100, CMSC 15100, or CMSC 16100. This course (or an equivalent CMSC programming course) is a prerequisite for the other Digital Studies courses, with the exception of DIGS 20002/30002, which has no prerequisite. However, students in the M.A. program in Digital Studies or in the undergraduate minor in Digital Studies can be exempted from this course requirement if they pass an examination designed to test their knowledge of computer programming. Such students will instead take an additional elective course to fulfill their Digital Studies program requirements. This course is offered in Summer 2018 and thereafter will be offered in both Spring and Summer each year.

DIGS 20002/30002. Basic Mathematics and Statistics. 100 Units.
This course covers selected topics in mathematics which are relevant for computing and for the subsequent Digital Studies courses, and it provides an introduction to statistics with emphasis on the analysis of linguistic, cultural, and historical data. Comprehension of these topics is reinforced by the Python programming exercises in DIGS 20001/30001; thus it is recommended that DIGS 20001/30001 and DIGS 20002/30002 be taken in the same quarter, if possible. No prior background in mathematics beyond the high school level is required for this course. For students who are, or who have been, UChicago undergraduates, STAT 22000 may be substituted for this course. Other prior courses in statistics may also be accepted in lieu of this course, subject to the approval of the faculty director of the Digital Studies program. This course (or an equivalent statistics course) is a prerequisite for DIGS 20004/30004 and DIGS 20006/30006. This course is offered in Summer 2018 and thereafter will be offered in both Spring and Summer each year.

DIGS 20003/30003. Data Management for Linguistic, Cultural, and Historical Research. 100 units.
This course introduces students to concepts and techniques related to the representation and management of digital data, with emphasis on the forms of data encountered in linguistic, cultural, and historical research. The following topics are covered: (1) digital character encoding using the ASCII and Unicode standards and digital typefaces (“fonts”) for displaying encoded characters; (2) the digital encoding of 2D images, 3D models, sound, and video; (3) database models and querying languages, both relational and non-relational, with attention to data-integration methods for combining and querying semi-structured and heterogeneous data; and (4) cartographic concepts (e.g., coordinate systems and map projections) and the basics of geospatial data management using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). DIGS 20001/30001, or an equivalent introduction to programming, is a prerequisite for this course. This course is offered in the Autumn.

DIGS 20004/30004. Data Analysis for Linguistic, Cultural, and Historical Research. 100 units.
This course builds on the introduction to statistics in DIGS 20002/30002 by introducing students to the R language and R packages for data analysis. Topics covered include the basics of data mining, data visualization, and high-performance computing (HPC) techniques for analyzing large datasets. This course provides a high-level conceptual introduction to machine learning, social network analysis, and spatial data analysis. The goal is to make students familiar with these methods and aware of their role in linguistic, cultural, and historical studies, as a basis for further study of these methods. DIGS 20001/30001 and DIGS 20002/30002 (or their equivalents) are prerequisites for this course. This course is offered in the Autumn.

DIGS 20005/30005. Data Publication for Linguistic, Cultural, and Historical Research. 100 units.
This course introduces software techniques and tools for building end-user-facing apps that run in Web browsers (via HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript). Students will learn how to use application programming interfaces (APIs) to integrate Web services into their apps, making use of the analysis, visualization, and database services provided by external systems. Attention will be paid to user-interface design for both research purposes and pedagogical purposes. Students will learn how to use GitHub to manage software development. DIGS 20001/30001, or an equivalent introduction to programming, is a prerequisite for this course. This course is offered in the Winter.

DIGS 20006/30006. Natural Language Processing. 100 units.
This course introduces software techniques and tools for natural language processing (NLP). The following topics are covered: (1) textual markup and related software standards such as the Extensible Markup Language (XML), as well as the Text Encoding Initiative’s XML tagging scheme; (2) character-string processing (with or without markup tags); and (3) NLP methods for part-of-speech tagging, lemmatization, morphological segmentation, sentence splitting, named entity recognition, co-reference resolution, sentiment analysis, and topic modeling. This course also provides a high-level conceptual overview of recent work in machine translation via neural networks and deep learning. Prerequisites for this course include DIGS 20001/30001 and DIGS 20002/30002 (or their equivalents), and also DIGS 20003/30003 and DIGS 20004/30004. This course is offered in the Winter.

DIGS 20007/30007. Issues in Digital Studies of Language, Culture, and History. 100 Units.
This is a discussion-oriented seminar that introduces students to theoretical debates in digital humanities, broadly defined, with attention to underlying philosophical issues. It touches upon the history and theory of digital computing within its social and institutional settings, as well as the history of the application of digital computing to texts, images, sound, geospatial data, and other information relevant to cultural and historical studies. Among other topics, this course introduces students to debates about the cultural impact of digital media and about ethical issues related to the ownership, accessibility, and legitimate uses of digital data. DIGS 20001/30001, or an equivalent introduction to programming, is a prerequisite for this course. This course is offered in the Winter.

DIGS 20008/30008. Thesis Preparation. 100 Units.
This course is primarily intended for students in the M.A. in Digital Studies program, for whom it is a requirement. Other students may petition the faculty director of the Digital Studies program for admission to the course. Students in this course are co-advised by a lecturer and a faculty member to do a digitally oriented thesis project. Projects that involve collaborative software development by groups of students are encouraged. In addition to the writing of software, each project will normally entail a written document that explains the work and provides critical comparisons with other similar work, with attention to current debates in digital humanities. Prerequisites for this course include DIGS 20001/30001 and DIGS 20002/30002 (or their equivalents), and also DIGS 20003/30003 and DIGS 20004/30004. This course is offered in the Spring.