3.309 syllabi for humanities computing (230)

Mon, 31 Jul 89 20:36:18 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 309. Monday, 31 Jul 1989.

Date: 31 July 1989
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: syllabi for courses in humanities computing

Some time ago I suggested that Humanist might publish syllabi for
courses in humanities computing so that we could have a clearer idea
of how our colleagues are defining the subject. A few such syllabi have
come in, one almost immediately after the suggestion was published, and
a bunch just this morning. In the interval I discovered that Joe Rudman,
a Humanist at Carnegie-Mellon University, has a large collection but
apparently his collection is not available for publication here.

The syllabi I have received follow below. Let me again suggest that
any Humanist with such a syllabus send it in, because the kind of
discussion it is apt to provoke would aid our common cause more than a
little. The information would presumably also help Rudman's project.

Anyone who is willing to have a syllabus published here but does not
want his or her name attached to it is welcome to send it in with a note
to that effect. Tentative ideas towards a syllabus are also most
welcome, since at this stage anyone's syllabus is likely to be

Let us return with some determination to the questions, "What is
humanities computing? Can it be taught as an academic subject in its own
right? What exactly are people teaching in this area? What could be

Willard McCarty

From: John Hurd <hurd@utorepas>
Subject: Syllabus for "Computer-Assisted Biblical Research"


Course: TRB 5903 Y -- Computer-Assisted Biblical Research
Institution: Toronto School of Theology (Biblical Department)

--- or as cross-listed at the School of Graduate Studies ---

Course: REL 2051 Y -- The Use of the Computer in the Study of Texts
Institution: University of Toronto, Centre for Religious Studies

Instructor: Prof. John C. Hurd, Trinity College
6 Hoskin Ave., Toronto, Ont. M5S 1H8
(416) 978-3056

Schedule: two hours per week, both semesters.
Taught in alternate years (1988/89, 1990/91, etc.)


Hockey, Susan. SNOBOL: Programming for the Humanities (Oxford
Univeristy Press, 1985) [ISBN 0-19-824676-5], paper. Required.

Griswold, Ralph E., J.F. Poage, and I.P. Polonsky. The SNOBOL4
Programming Language, 2d ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1971) [ISBN 0-13-815373-6], paper.


Discussion of the literature. Introduction to the use of
texts in machine-readable form. Elementary programming.
Development of a research project. Prerequisite: No background in
computing needed. Auditors welcome.
-/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// 200
Date: Mon, 31 Jul 89 09:25:46 EDT

Syllabi of Humanities Computing courses at King's College London

At present the Humanities Division within the Computing Centre
offers a number of courses which are non-examinable; however, there
are some plans for examinable humanities computing courses in the
future. For practical reasons, we have prepared various modules which
have in common a basic approach and the use of humanities data
as examples. Each module is designed to be a practical introduction
rather than a theoretical overview, with sufficient exercises, plus
reference handouts so that the student should feel confident to
begin to use the package after the course. The datasets used in
the examples reflect the initial courses we prepared, but it is
hoped to build up sets of teaching examples which cover a broader
range of humanities subjects.

The various modules have been combined in three major courses
thus far: a course for undergraduate historians, with a two
hour slot per week over two terms, a similar course for
humanities postgraduates for one term, and an intensive
half day course over two weeks for academic staff and
postgraduates. The second term of the historian's course
is devoted to a project in which the skills learned in
the first term are applied to an open-ended historical
problem. This historical element of the project is
stressed as much as the computing, with students being
encouraged to use the computer as analytical tool and
for presentation.

The course is taught on microcomputers. Since King's College
London has standardised on two main microcomputers (IBM and Mac),
both types are used. Although we thought this might prove confusing,
in fact it has worked out very well, with students making the
switch easily, and appreciating the opportunity to have experience
on both types.

Word Processing:

Package used: Microsoft Word
Taught on: Mac
Duration : two two-hour/three-hour sessions
Topics covered:
Part i: Basic use of Mac; inserting text; selecting
text; deleting, cut-and-paste, and formatting
of selected text; formatting paragraphs; saving
and loading; printing.
Part ii: Using foreign characters; using windows; merging
texts; glossaries; running heads; footnotes;
and style sheets.
Example files used:
A page on early tennis courts (for basic formatting practice)
A few pages from an academic work describing water in the
Roman world (for advanced practice).
Course material: locally written bulletin


Package used: Microsoft Excel
Taught on: Mac
Duration: one two-hour/three-hour slot
Topics covered:
Creating worksheets with text, numbers, and numbers treated as
text; formatting text/numbers and columns; use of formulae;
use of graphing options
Example file used:
Voting figures from the last four general elections
Mortality rates from the 20th century
Course material: handouts of overheads, together with sheet
describing local implementation of Excel.


Packages used: Kermit, Electronic mail
Taught on: either IBM or Mac, and mainframe (VAX)
Duration: one two-hour/three hour slot
Topics covered:
File transfer between a mainframe and microcomputer;
use of network to access bulletin boards, library catalogues;
electronic mail (taught by electronic mail), including
sending, receiving, forwarding, saving, deleting.
Example file used:
Humanist mail file for use in Kermit
Course material: handouts of overheads, locally written bulletins
on electronic mail, introduction to using the VAX mainframe,
sheet on local implementation of Kermit.


Package used: Ingres
Taught on: IBM
Duration: Two two-hour/three-hour slots; in some courses a
third session is added, devoted to a practical database design
Topics covered:
Part i: Basic ingres environment and database terminology;
querying an existing database, with both Query-by-
forms and SQL; pattern matching, conditional searches,
sorting, updating and adding data with query-by-forms;
functions, joining tables with SQL.
Part ii: database design issues; creating tables and forms.
Example files used:
Two tables relating to astronomy
Baptism, burial, and marriage records from a 17th
century Oxford parish
Data sets provided (on paper) for design exercise:
Elizabethan port records, London theatre productions,
medieval guild renders, list of Frankish capitularies,
further Oxford parish records.
Course material: handouts of overheads, together with sheet
on local implementation of Ingres on IBM PS/2.

Textual Analysis:

Package used: WordCruncher
Taught on: IBM
Duration: two two-hour/three-hour slots
Topics covered:
Part i: Using WC View to analyse an indexed text: searching
for words or combinations of words, finding exact
references, creating concordances.
Part ii: Indexing a text with WC Index: beginning with an
ascii text, inserting codes using a word processing
package, loading the file, setting character options
sort sequences, indexing.
Example files used: example sets which come with WordCruncher,
Anglo-Saxon charters from Staffordshire (in translation),
two Browning poems.
Course material: handouts of overheads, together with sheet on
local implementation of WordCruncher on the IBM PS/2.

Historians project:

Packages used: at least two of the above, and preferably more.
Taught on: IBM PS/2 and Mac
Duration: nine two-hour sessions spread over the term.
Topics covered: Students are encouraged to use at least
two packages to explore some historial problem, preferably
one which involves raw source material, leading to a small
word processed essay and presentation on the final day.
A 'prepared' example is available and strongly recommended.
There is active participation by members of the History Department
so that historical as well as computing problems are properly
addressed. This year issues relating to Staffordshire in
the Anglo-Saxon period were used as a basis.
Example files used: the following were available for use:
Anglo-Saxon charters in translation (already coded for
WordCruncher), the originals in Latin/Old English from the Birch
edition, Domesday book for Staffordshire.