V22.0380 - 001: Computing in the Humanities and the Arts -- Prof. Deena Engel - Fall, 2007




Class Notes




Guest Speakers



Course Description

The advent of new technologies and digitization has had a huge impact on all aspects and all fields of study and research in the Humanities and the Arts. Scholars and curators - as well as authors, composers, artists and others - have seen enormous opportunities to explore their domains in new ways.

In some cases, current technology offers a new understanding of traditional materials such as electronic cataloguing of text and images to render historical documents and images available to a much wider audience. In other cases, software techniques - such as using the strategy of DNA-matching software to analyze ancient texts or text analysis software to produce detailed and specialized concordances of texts - offers insights otherwise unavailable or too cumbersome to obtain. Digitization of text and images allows for preservation, for study, and has vastly changed how the results of these efforts are delivered.

This is a very exciting time to study Computing in the Humanities and the Arts because we are both witnesses and participants as we work with and design new and creative tools for study. In addition, and in a completely different way, writers, composers, and artists are exploring these technologies to create new types of work and explore the boundaries of their creativity - such as randomly written "poems" - as they explore the new media of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

There are no pre-requisites for this course in the Humanities or the Arts. The computing pre-requisites include V22.0004 (Computers in Principle & Practice I or equivalent); and V22.0002 (Introduction to Computers and Programming or equivalent). If you have any questions on your background for this course, please feel free to see me during my office hours, or contact me for an appointment at 212-998-3131 or send me email at and I will be happy to meet you.

Class Information

Class will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:00 - 12:15 in CIWW Room 102.

Contact Information

Deena Engel
Department of Computer Science
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences
251 Mercer Street, Room 526
New York, New York 10012
Tel.: 212-998-3131

Course Requirements

Homeworks will include several small programming assignments (40% of the total grade) as well as a midterm exam (20% of the final grade) and a final research project (at 40% of the final grade in lieu of a final exam). Projects will be web-based. The final research project will be presented to the class. As Computing in the Humanities and the Arts encompasses such a wide variety of topics - in literature, history, music and the arts - students will be encouraged to build models and sites based on content in the field of their choice.

  • Midterm exam date: Monday, October 22, 2007 -- in class
  • Final Exam - There is no final exam in this course as your final project will be counted in lieu of an exam.

Course Materials

Computer Resources:

All students will be provided with an account on an undergraduate web server to post their on-line work. All software needed for this course will be provided through the web-server and/or the ITS labs. Further resources are available through the ITS Digital Studio.

Required Books:

The Text in the Machine: Electronic Texts in the Humanities
By Toby Burrows
The Haworth Press, 1999

Oxford University Computing Services Guide to Digital Resources for Humanities
By Frances Condron, Michael Fraser, Stuart Sutherland
West Virginia University Press, 2001

Additional Books and Resources:

Additional books are on reserve at the Bobst Library.

XML in a Nutshell - available on-line through the Bobst Library

XML in a Nutshell
by Elliotte Rusty Harold; W. Scott Means
Publisher: O'Reilly
Pub Date: September 2004
ISBN: 0-596-00764-7

A Companion to Digital Humanities
ed. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth.
Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.

XML Visual Quickstart Guide - Optional

XML for the World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide
By Elizabeth Castro
Published Oct 23, 2000 by Peachpit Press
ISBN: 0201710986

Readings from both texts and on-line sources are posted to the Readings page on this site.

I look forward to working with everyone in this exciting new field! If at any time during the semester you are excited about a particular topic which you would like to research in more depth, please do not hesitate to let me know. By the same token, if you feel behind or lost with any of the material, please don't hesitate to see me as well.

Deena Engel ( )