Search DH@UVA

Your Portal to the Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia

Search for Helpful Syllabus Models

Would you like to see how instructors incorporate DH approaches into syllabi for courses taught across the humanistic disciplines?  Here you can search our exhaustive catalog of publicly available syllabi, pinpoint useful assignments, and identify tools and technologies to implement in your classroom.

Use these boxes to sort:




DH Theory & History



Structured Data

Public Archives

Course Summary:

Data and data-empowered algorithms now shape our professional, personal, and political realities. This course introduces students both to critical thinking and practice in understanding how we got here, and the future we now are building together as scholars, scientists, and citizens.

The intellectual content of the class will comprise

  • the history of human use of data;

  • functional literacy in how data are used to reveal insight and support decisions;

  • critical literacy in investigating how data and data-powered algorithms shape, constrain, and manipulate our commercial, civic, and personal transactions and experiences; and

  • rhetorical literacy in how exploration and analysis of data have become part of our logic and rhetoric of communication and persuasion, especially including visual rhetoric.

While introducing students to recent trends in the computational exploration of data, the course will survey the key concepts of "small data" statistics.

Original Instructor: Matthew Jones, Original Instructor: Chris Wiggins
Taught at Columbia University in Spring 2020
Course Summary:
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30pm - 1:45pm .    
In order to sign up for this class email and for instructions.
Description: Introduction to text analytics with a focus on long-form documents, such as reviews, news articles, and novels. Students convert source texts into structure-preserving analytical form and then apply information theory, NLP tools, and vector-based methods to explore language models, topic models, sentiment analyses, and narrative structures. The focus is on unsupervised methods to explore cognitive and social patterns in texts.
Students are expected to know Python and probability theory, and understand vectors and matrices from linear algebra.
Original Instructor: Rafael Alvarado
Taught at University of Virginia in Spring 2020
discipline: Data Science
Course Summary:

Fridays 1:00-3:30p.m. in CAM 108.

This digital humanities seminar combines archival research and close reading of texts with data visualization to explore new insights into two significant designed landscapes, Park Muskau, Germany and Central Park, New York.  We focus on how concurrent developments in technology and science, changing social practices as well as territorial networks of material and information exchange impacted the form and experience of these 19th century landscapes.

This seminar fulfills the UVA digital humanities certificate elective as well as landscape architecture elective. Open to students in the all schools of the university.

Original Instructor: Michael Lee, Original Instructor: Elizabeth K. Meyer
Taught at University of Virginia in Spring 2020
discipline: Digital Humanities, Landscape Architecture
Course Summary:

Tuesdays and Thursdays 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m. in Cocke Hall 101.

This course--open to both advanced undergrads and to new graduate students--investigates material texts, mixing theory and practice. We'll sample bibliography, thing theory, artifact-oriented scholarship and visit Special Collections, campus Fab Labs, and the Puzzle Poetry group. Readings will feature writers that experiment with form and shape: that is, pattern poems, iconographs, concrete poetry, the poetics of controlled vocabularies, and artist books. Readings in theory will (likely) be drawn from Karl Marx, Martin Heidegger, Bill Brown, Quentin Meillassoux, Ian Bogost, Michael Fried, and Walter Benn Michaels. For contrast and complication, we’ll also read Tom McCarthy's novel "Remainder" and spend a day playing and talking about the video game "Baba is You". For this theory/DH course on making and fabrication, students will be asked at midterm to remediate a poem by means of laser-cutting, 3D-printing, or open-source electronics and hardware. Classwork will culminate in a final maker's project or a research essay


Original Instructor: Brad Pasanek
Taught at University of Virginia in Fall 2019
discipline: English, Digital Humanities
Course Summary:

This course introduces students to the concepts and tools needed to conduct digital research in English. During the semester, we’ll discuss how the broader field of the Digital humanities (DH) is defined, why humanists are using digital tools to do their research, how the new methods compare with older methods of humanities scholarship, and what are their strengths and weaknesses. This course gives you a chance to explore these new methods. We begin with a focus on the basic theoretical and technological issues involved in creating and analyzing digital texts, before moving on to a series of hands-on exercises in analyzing words and interrogating the results. By the end of the semester, students will understand the history, theory, and technology of digital textual analysis and produce a 15-page paper applying these new methods to material relevant to their own interests or analyzing examples of digital-based criticism. The field of DH values collaborative work far more than most other forms of scholarship in the humanities. This is because every DH project involves a collection of many discrete skills, far more than any one person can generally master. In this course, students will be encouraged to work collaboratively where possible. Part of the course will be devoted to discussing the nature of collaborative work and how it differs from “group work,” so that students learn how to work together in productive and positive relationships. Students should be comfortable using a computer and moving around in the file system. No knowledge of computer programming is needed. If you own a laptop, please bring it to class. If you do not, we’ll have laptops available for you to work through the in-class exercises.

Original Instructor: Peter Logan
Taught at Temple University in Spring 2016
discipline: English, Digital Humanities
conceptual difficulty: 3 technical difficulty: 4
Course Summary:

English 3386 equips students for critical encounters with the texts, images, sounds, and situations that constitute American life, politics, history, and culture. This section is organized around the theme of “Versioning Digital Humanities.” Many texts go through various “versions” as they are revised for republications, corrected for new editions, altered to suit audience responses, and so forth. To respond to the plural states of such texts, readers may draw on various tools, including digitizing, collating, versioning, and visualizing texts individually and in combination. Through a series of essays and formal assignments, students will also improve their understanding of persuasive and correct communication while acquiring the digital humanities skill sets that assist in responding to texts in multiple witnesses.

Original Instructor: James Gifford
Taught at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Fall 2015
discipline: English
conceptual difficulty: 2 technical difficulty: 2
Course Summary:

This mid-level core course offers a survey of canonical Victorian literature through the lens of Victorian information theories and knowledge organization practices. Reading texts like Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret, Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market,” Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh, Alfred Tennyson’s In Memoriam A.H.H., Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy, John Henry Newman’s The Idea of the University, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, we will investigate the relation between information, knowledge, and literature: how did Victorians imagine literature as information? And how do new literary-critical methods of interpretation draw on the idea of literature as information to test old readings and invent new ones? Calibrating the distance between various Victorians’ ideas about information and our own, we will read Tennyson’s In Memoriam A.H.H. alongside Lewis Carroll’s index for that famous poem before creating our own indexes to it, study John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty” by comparing it to his complete works using topic models, and interpret Darwin’s The Origin of Species alongside three different visualizations of that work’s seven major revised editions and our own experience with textual version control. Throughout, we will focus on developing techniques for close, middle-distance, and distant reading, with an emphasis on exploring digital tools for finding, organizing, counting, curating, decomposing, rereading, and remaking literary texts.


Original Instructor: Rachel Sagner Buurma
Taught at Swarthmore College in Spring 2014
discipline: English
conceptual difficulty: 2 technical difficulty: 2
Course Summary:

If you are a Facebook user, you know what it means to “friend” someone. But how old is this practice? Some might say a decade, and they would be technically correct since Facebook didn't exist until 2004. But the practice of establishing – what some might call superficial – friendships through written correspondence has a long history that extends beyond the surviving material record. Yet, we do have an abundance of evidence about the history of “friending” preserved in manuscript archives throughout the world, which maintain collections of earlier modes of epistolary exchange, or what we now call “social networking.” While such letter writing stretches back into antiquity, the form and function of such correspondence experienced a revolution in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Italy, when medieval teachers began instructing their students in the rhetorical forms of written persuasion called the artes dictaminis. These treatises, the first of their kind in the western world, survive in manuscripts and early printed books that not only explain the art of establishing social networks through letter writing, but also include marginal glosses written by later readers, which indicate how the practice was evolving over time. Additionally, these manuals were often accompanied by the works of the ancient Roman rhetorician Marcus Tullius Cicero, whose theories about speaking were adapted for written communication throughout the Middle Ages and well into the Renaissance. In particular, the prevalence of his treatise On Friendship indicates that establishing friendships and letter writing were increasingly considered to be complementary activities. The archival record 2 demonstrates that letter writers were actively “friending” each other to establish social networks beyond the scriptorium. This course will examine the literary, cultural, and material life of written correspondence from the poetic epistle to the snarky tweet. And while we will be reading and analyzing epistolary literature (both fiction and nonfiction) such as Ovid’s Heroides, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Alice Walker’s A Color Purple, we will focus our efforts on “real” letters of writers that are held in the Rare Books Room of the Boston Public Library. The BPL is a treasure trove of such correspondence, ranging from the stately epistles of Queen Elizabeth to the cryptic scribblings of Emily Dickinson. Much of the course will be devoted to handling, describing, and transcribing these fragile texts, all the while characterizing the place of letter writing within the history of the book. As we examine this life of letters, we will consider the rhetorical principles that shape authors and audience over time, as well as their implications for our understanding of the past, present, and future of epistolary friendship. Drawing on the innovative methods of the digital humanities, we will contextualize our archival research within read-write platforms, such as blogs, wikis, Facebook status updates, and Twitter feeds, in order to identify the shifting character and global significance of written correspondence today.

Original Instructor: Alex Mueller
Taught at University of Maryland Baltimore in Spring 2014
discipline: English
conceptual difficulty: 1 technical difficulty: 2
Course Summary:

In FMS 321 we will study the cultural significance of videogames from a number of critical perspectives. As products of a complicated network of social, economic, and technological forces, videogames are dense objects, deeply layered with multiple meanings and hidden histories. Whether we consider early arcade games like Pac-Man or the latest blockbusters like No Man’s Sky, we find that videogames reveal much about our cultural values, hopes and anxieties, and assumptions about the world. We will examine a range of games this semester as we strive to understand both their narrative and formal aspects. At the same time we will map connections between videogames and their broader social contexts—how games are designed and manufactured, who plays them and where, and in what ways videogames can be more than entertainment.

Original Instructor: Mark Sample
Taught at Davidson College in Fall 2016
discipline: Film and Media Studies
conceptual difficulty: 1 technical difficulty: 2
Course Summary:

This class, Digital Literary Studies, examines four elements of the field.

• Close reading, “deformance,” and remix.
• Distant & Surface Reading: computers allow us to view the “surface” patterns of texts from the “distance” of large data sets rather than “close,” isolated passages.
• Archives and Databases: digital literary studies began with digital scholarly editions, which eventually became “unbound” from the book and were built as author- and theme-specific databases. We’ll study several, and contribute to some. We’ll learn how to “clean” data and do basic data visualizations.
• Cultural Studies: how search and metadata allow incredible facility in accessing information, but also can flatten lived human experience and render important details invisible. We’ll examine archives in the context of critical race theory and gender.

This course is both hands-on and theoretical. Student will write essays, build remix and collage, clean data, visualize data and aim to detect patterns. No prior knowledge of particular software is necessary. The course’s technical lessons adapt to the needs and prior experience of learners in the class. No pre-requisites are necessary.

Original Instructor: Kathy Berens
Taught at Portland State University in Fall 2016
discipline: English
conceptual difficulty: 3 technical difficulty: 3