Courses for Historians at DHSI

The Digital Humanities are here to stay. By my rough appraisal, the history profession seems to be experiencing the long-anticipated pivot from “that’s not real history” to “all historians use digital tools in some ways.” For grad students with an eye toward the job market, this is still a good time to pick up some DH training. In my last time on the academic market (2015-2016 year), I drew interest from several hiring institutions looking for DH—particularly those looking for teaching-focused candidates.

The Digital Humanities Summer Institute is a wonderful place to develop your DH skills in a friendly environment. (Compared to the AHA, it’s downright warm.) Various week-long workshops are tailored to both beginner and more advanced learners, and generous funding is available to offset tuition costs.

Most folks participating in DHSI seem to be graduate students in English. There are several courses that are great for historians, however. I’ve attended five times as a history professor and wanted to suggest two courses of special use for historians.

Geographical Information Systems in the Digital Humanities, Ian Gregory with Alejandra Zubiria Perez. This is an amazing course! Gregory is a leading scholar in spatial humanities, and this is an incredible opportunity to learn from the best. He has offered this course for several years, both in Canada and the UK, and it is a well-oiled machine. This course gets you making maps right away. There is also time at the end of the week to ask questions about your own project. For grad students and faculty working on projects involving mapping, this is especially useful. Gregory is also extremely skilled at presenting GIS (an often frustrating tool) in a calming, patient manner.

Ethical Data Visualization: Taming Treacherous Data with Chris Church and Katherine Hepworth. The instructors walk you through the basics of ethical data analysis and presentation. Aspects of data visualization that I had not given much thought, such as the effects of shortening an axis, are covered here. The insights are very helpful for teaching data interpretation as well as data analysis. The course also offers a soft introduction to R through R Studio, a language and programming environment where you can manipulate, analyze, and visualize data. R is far more broadly useful than it used to be, and this course is a good way to get a sense of what it can do. Church and Hepworth are quite knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

Courses change annually, but others of use to many historians include Paige Morgan and Yvonne Lam, Making Choices about Your Data; Brian Norberg and Markus Wust, Developing a Digital Project (with Omeka); Erica Cavanaugh and Alix Shield, Drupal for Digital Humanities Projects; George Williams and Erin Templeton, Accessibility & Digital Environments; Dorothy Kim and Angel David Nieves, Race, Social Justice, and DH: Applied Theories and Methods; Anne Cong-Huyen and Amanda Phillips, Intersectional Feminist Digital Humanities: Theoretical, Social, and Material Engagements; Jamie Howe and Bonnie Ruber, Queer Digital Humanities; Angel David Nieves and Janet Thomas Simons, Models for DH at Liberal Arts Colleges (& 4 Yr Institutions); and John Unsworth, Harold Short, Ray Siemens, with Constance Crompton, Dene Grigar, and Angel David Nieves, DH For Department Chairs and Deans.