University of California, Los Angeles
Professor Miriam Posner: mposner@humnet.ucla.edu
Teaching Assistant Francesca Albrezzi: falbrezzi@ucla.edu
All classes (lecture and lab) are in 2118 Rolfe
Office hours: by appointment in Public Affairs 1070
Download this syllabus as a PDF

What is digital humanities and how does it differ from other ways of studying the digital? We will investigate this question by examining the activities, platforms, tools, projects, and critical perspectives that form this emerging field and constitute its current core practices. We will also discuss historical underpinnings and traditions of knowledge production on which digital practices depend for their operation.

Our focus is on understanding thoroughly the basic components of a digital project — from data to interface — and on how the decisions we make at any point in a project affect the outcome. We will examine the difference between the world as we experience it and the world as the computer can capture it, and discuss how digital humanists think about and work through this disjunction.

The course will explore these conceptual issues as they relate to emerging forms of humanities scholarly production and digital methodologies, such as digital exhibits, digital mapping, text analysis, information visualization, and network analysis. Students will become familiar with various digital tools to explore these approaches to knowledge production in the weekly lab/studio.

Learning Goals

To teach the basic vocabulary of concepts and tools in digital humanities and acquaint students with projects, critical work, resources in the field, and to provide a hands-on experience of resource/repository production.


Lecture and discussion/workshop sessions are tightly integrated; both are required. Students must be enrolled in both lecture and a lab.


Project: 45%
Details of your final project and its assessment are provided here.

Written work: 45%

25% Final: In class on December 10, cumulative.
20% Blog posts: Each week, you have a two-part blog assignment due:

  • A 400-word blog post (see below for details), due by classtime on Monday of each week.
  • Two substantive comments on classmates’ blog posts, due by classtime on Wednesday of each week.

Attendance: 10%
We do take attendance. You are permitted three absences (including lab absences), no questions asked. After that, each absence will result in a 10% deduction from your attendance grade.

Weekly blog post

You are required to post 400-word weekly blog posts by classtime on Monday. Your posts should adhere to the following format:

  • An image or link to a primary source (defined as a document that “provide[s] first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation”) related to the readings for the week(either Monday’s or Wednesday’s reading).
  • An explanation of what the source is and how it relates to the reading. Does it illuminate the phenomenon described in the reading, extend the argument of the reading, or challenge the argument? Why?

In addition to your blog post, you will post two substantive comments in response to your classmates’ blog posts by classtime on Wednesday.

Together, each blog post and each week’s comments account for 11% of your blog grade (which is 20% of your total grade for the class). Of this 11%, the blog post itself accounts for 8%; the comments account for 3%. We will not grade the blog posts or comments; you’ll either receive full credit for having completed the requirements of each component each week, or none at all. You are welcome to use your own name or a pseudonym, as long as I know who you are. You should be aware that I’ve invited a number of the authors of the works we’re reading to take a look at your blog posts and occasionally respond.

Key terms

In order to help you focus your reading and to serve as a mnemonic device, I have provided key terms for each week of class. Your final exam will consist of questions that ask you to relate these key terms to one another. Please note that the definition I will expect you to understand is not the dictionary definition of the term, but an elucidation of the term as we have used it in the context of the class: in our discussions, in our readings, and in our project work. You will be expected to cite relevant authors (though not exact quotes or page numbers) as well as class discussions.

In order to help you to share ideas on these terms, I have created a group Google doc, called “Key Terms,” on which I invite you to gather your notes, thoughts, and links on each of these terms. This is your document, and you’re welcome to use it as you wish.


In the spirit of Universal Design for Learning, I will strive to provide an environment that is equitable and conducive to achievement and learning for all students. I ask that we all be respectful of diverse opinions and of all class members, regardless of personal attribute. I encourage persons with dis- abilities or particular needs that impact on performance to meet with me to co-design accommodations, if necessary. I ask that we all use inclusive language in written and oral work. Students with disabilities may also want to register with the Office for Students with Disabilities (http://www.osd. ucla.edu).

A note on email

We enjoy working with you very much, and we strive to respond to emails within 48 hours. However, we regret that we cannot answer email after 5:00 p.m. or on weekends. Please plan accordingly. This class has many moving parts, and from time to time, we’ll need to get in touch with you. We’ll expect you to check the email account associated with your MyUCLA profile each weekday. You may also wish to consult this guide to emailing a professor.

This syllabus is based on a course developed by Johanna Drucker with David Kim; see dh101.humanities.ucla.edu for prior versions of the course and past student projects.