Minor Digital Humanities

The sources and objects studied in history, media, literature, linguistics, music are increasingly becoming available digitally. In the Digital Humanities Minor you will learn how to create, interpret and analyse different types of data collections using computational tools.

The digital world

Over the last decades, cultural heritage institutions have been digitising their collections. The result is an ever-growing digital availability of a variety of sources (archives, literary texts, paintings, films), to both scholars and the general public. So-called digital-born material, such as social media, has become the object of research as well.

How do we treat these ‘new’ forms of information in humanities research? What choices are made in digitisation processes? How can we study these datasets of both digitised as digital-born material? What tools can we use to analyse and identify patterns in big and fuzzy data? How can we visualise the results of this e-research? What is the difference between the new techniques and the traditional methods of the humanities? Is e-humanities ‘the next big thing’? These are some of the important questions driving the Digital Humanities minor.

Courses in the minor

The Digital Humanities minor consists of 5 courses, making up 30 EC. The first two courses will provide you with an introduction to the research field of digital humanities, and get you acquainted with state of the art digital humanities projects. We will learn how physical objects (texts, images, music) are converted into data and how these objects are turned into entries in a data collection. In the second period, we will investigate how to interpret these data collections. You can choose two out of the three courses offered (or, if your curriculum allows, you can choose all three) that focus on annotating and labelling data, on coding and programming, or on frequently-used tools in clustering, structuring and visualising data. We will build datasets to research humanities problems, such as the history of democracy, tracing historical events, the practices of social media, or the canonisation of artists. The minor concludes with ‘collaboratories’ or group-based internships, in which you will conduct your own research together with three to four other students and with researchers and organisations in the field of digital humanities. Everything you have learned in the other courses comes together in this final practical setting.

The Digital Humanities minor is an interdisciplinary minor, welcoming both computers science students and humanities students of all disciplines: linguistics, media, communication, history, literature and arts. Throughout the minor, you will engage in critical reflection on the tools and methods used, and explore the way digital techniques influence current research. All courses are taught in English and focus on collaboration and project-based learning.

View more information about the courses in the Study Guide

Why would you study digital humanities?

Digital data and computational techniques are fundamentally changing the world around us, and the way humanities research is conducted. Humanities scholars have become aware that the new analytical methods and tools can help us to enhance the performance and impact of humanities research. Computer scientists have discovered that the fuzzy data and the hermeneutic methods of humanities research offer daring challenges to computer science. That is why companies like IBM or Samsung are now undertaking collaborations with humanities researchers. As most of the knowledge-intensive jobs have come to depend more on computer technology, university students who master new, sophisticated analytic skills will develop promising career opportunities.

Apart from these long-term perspectives, we predict that taking digital humanities courses will be exciting, challenging and fun for both humanities and computer science students. The current climate of excitement and innovation around digital humanities will surely have positive effects on teachers and students alike!

Practical Information

Since the minor is a collaboration between UvA and VU, you have to register for courses both at VU and at UvA. At VU, you can register for the minor and the VU-courses the way you are used to. For registering for the UvA-courses, you need to:

Enrol as a guest student at UvA. Read the guidelines.
Register for the minor and the UvA-courses in the minor. Read more.

Please note that registration deadlines at UvA are different (and approximately a month earlier!) than at VU (check the UvA year schedule).

Also, enrolling as a guest student means you have to submit a number of forms, which might take some time. We strongly advise you to start doing this as soon as possible, in order to overcome possible problems in time. You can contact the VU faculty desk (balie@fgw.vu.nl) or the UvA administration office Mediastudies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *