Spring 2018
HUM 346
TuTh, 1:30 PM – 2:50 PM


Dr. Jim Casey
Center for Digital Humanities
Firestone Library, Floor B
Office Hours: Tuesday 3-5pm; Thursday 12-1pm; or by appt.
Email: jccasey@princeton.edu
Twitter: @jimccasey1

Course Description

This class will explore the public digital humanities. How can the humanities draw on data visualization, mapping and other digital tools? How can these technologies help us to communicate complex ideas to public audiences? How might we engage questions of social justice by balancing the neat precision of digital tools with the messiness of our cultures, histories and identities? Final projects will pair collaborative teams with real-world datasets.

Reading/Writing Assignments

Weekly readings will explore critical and public approaches to the digital humanities. Written assignments will include short responses, proposals, and a final project. Course will offer training on methods for data analysis and visualization (e.g. maps, graphs, or networks). For final projects, students will work in teams to create digital stories, exhibits, and visualizations.

Course Policies

Please read these policies carefully. All information on this syllabus is subject to change. Any changes will be announced with prior warning.


All course readings are available online and should be completed before the start of class.


Mandatory and crucial. Attendance and active participation are essential components of the learning process. My class is structured to encourage your success through in-class discussions, exercises, and conversations with your peers. If you have difficulty speaking up in class, please talk to me.

Because absences are sometimes unavoidable, you will exchange email addresses with classmates. Keep these in case you need to communicate about missed work in class. I consider it your responsibility to find out from classmates (not me) what took place. Due to the importance of our in-class conversations and exercises, you may miss two classes during the semester, after which one point will be deducted from the participation grade for each missed meeting.

Class Contacts

Name:_______________________ E-mail: _____________________________

Name:_______________________ E-mail: _____________________________


Given the precious little time we have together, it is important that we make full use of every class period. This includes the beginning of class. Consistent tardiness will adversely impact your grade.  Being tardy three times will register as one missed class.

Evaluation Policies

The assignments throughout the class will be a mix of collaborative efforts and individual written assignments. I will provide feedback on every assignment. While completing any of your work, you are encouraged and welcome to visit office hours. I ask that you wait 24 hours before discussing any grade with me. As the final project will be a large portion of the course evaluations, I will circulate a more detailed schedule and evaluation rubrics in class. Please note that every major step of the final assignment will require a critical reflection from each member of the group on their individual and collaborative role(s) in that stage of the project, and how it fulfills the project designs, charters, and rubrics. To show that you have read this syllabus thoroughly, please email me with a GIF of a dinosaur to receive extra credit.

Extra Credit

If you attend a campus event or talk relevant to our class, you may submit a one-page reflection on how the experience adds to our class learning. Some of these opportunities will be announced in class. Reflections will count for one point of the participation grade.

Plagiarism & Academic Honesty

It is your duty to be familiar with the Princeton University Principles of General Conduct and Regulations, along with the Rights, Rules, Responsibilities, 2017 edition www.princeton.edu/pub/rrr/. I quote: “The central purposes of a university are the pursuit of truth, the discovery of new knowledge through scholarship and research, the teaching and general development of students, and the transmission of knowledge and learning to society at large. Free inquiry and free expression within the academic community are indispensable to the achievement of these goals. The freedom to teach and to learn depends upon the creation of appropriate conditions and opportunities on the campus as a whole as well as in classrooms and lecture halls. All members of the academic community share the responsibility for securing and sustaining the general conditions conducive to this freedom.”


  • Participation 20%
  • Data critiques 20%
  • Proposals 20%
  • In-class reviews 10%
  • Reflections 10%
  • Digital projects 20%
  • Total 100%

Calendar of Formal Assignments

Date Assignment
Feb 13 – Data critique #1: Reflection on your data diets
Feb 22 – Data critique #2: What arguments shaped the selection of your dataset?
Feb 27 – Data critique #3: What does your dataset leave out?
March 8 – Data critique #4: How did your dataset change in moving from archive to data?
March 15 – Data critique #5: Assigned project reviews
March 29 – Proposals
April 19 – In-class peer reviews
May 1 – Project presentations
May 15 – Public project/site launch

Brief timeline of final projects

Wk Steps
3 Draft a project charter
4 Submit charter and conduct env. scans
5 Interviews and learning systems
6 Learn tools and create personas
7 Submit proposals and reflections
8 Group conferences
9 Begin wireframes, texts, and graphics
10 Project review workshop in class
11 Assembly, user testing, and adjustments
12 Presentations
14 Public release

Some advice from past students

  • “Manage your time, work on projects and assignments daily, even if only for a little while.”
  • “Don’t BS your first attempts and peer projects. The projects that I got the most out of were the ones that I worked really hard on the first stab and my group dug in together. If you put in the effort in the beginning your life will be easier and you will get a better grade.”
  • “Just make sure you plan ahead.”
  • “Participate in class, otherwise you will be bored.”
  • “Work hard on the project rough drafts so that you lighten your load and aren’t up all night the night before something is due.”
  • “Don’t wait until the last minute.”
  • “Begin the research process early.”
  • “Do it.”


This syllabus was prepared with inspiration, counsel, examples, and wisdom from Miriam Posner, Edward Whitley, David Kim, P. Gabrielle Foreman, Michael Zarafonetis, Fred Gibbs, Sharon Leon, Jennifer Guiliano, Shannon Mattern, and far too many others to list here.

Course calendar

Week 1: Introductions: what can the digital humanities be?
Tuesday, Feb 6

Many people, “What is digital humanities?”

Thursday, Feb 8

Kirschenbaum, “What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?”
Liu, “Where is the cultural criticism in the digital humanities?”
Neal and Johnson, “Wild Seed in the Machine” (2017)
Dinsman, “The Digital in the Humanities: An Interview with Marisa Parham”
Lubar, “Seven Rules for Public Humanists”

Week 2: Unruly data
Tuesday, Feb 13

Bowker and Star, Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences (selections)
Posner, “How did they make that?”
*Data critique #1: reflection on your data diets

Thursday, Feb 15

Rawson & Muñoz, “Against Cleaning”

Week 3: Critical turns
Tuesday, Feb 20

Posner, “What’s Next: The Radical, Unrealized Potential of Digital Humanities”
Gallon, “Making a Case for the Black Digital Humanities”

Thursday, Feb 22

Brennan, “Public, First”
Christen, “Does Information Really Want to be Free? Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the Question of Openness”
Corbett and Miller, “A Shared Inquiry into Shared Inquiry”
*Data critique #2: what arguments shaped the selection of your data and sources?

Project steps: Starting up
Draft a project charter

Week 4: Storytelling
Tuesday, Feb 27

Evans, “12 Days of Story Map Tips”
ESRI, The Five Principles of Effective Storytelling
Hobbes, “Generation Screwed”
*Data critique #3: what does your dataset leave out?

Thursday, March 1

Vaughan, “How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business [Free Persona Template]”
Young, “Describing Personas”
Cousins, “Designing for Culture: Creating the Perfect UX Persona”
Simon, “Evaluating Participatory Projects”

Project steps: Building foundations
Finalize & sign the project charter – submit final drafts
Conduct subject research and an environmental scan

Week 5: Archives and other memory technologies
Tuesday, March 6

Drucker, “Humanities Approaches to Graphical Display”
Liupi, “Data Humanism”

(No longer required)
Derrida, Archive Fever (excerpt)
Theimer, “Archives in Context and as Context”

Thursday, March 8

Whitelaw, “Generous Interfaces for Digital Cultural Collections”
Stack, “Exploring museum collections online: Some background reading”
Rajchel, “Guide to Creating Omeka Exhibits”
Course site
Owens, “A Draft Style Guide for Digital Collection Hypertexts”
*Data critique #4: how did your dataset change in moving from artifacts into data?

Project steps: Conversations
Conduct interviews with subject experts
Begin learning how to use the content management systems

Week 6: Visual and embodied data
Tuesday, March 13 – visit to Mudd Library

Special guests Valencia Johnson & Sara Logue.
Rabinowitz, “Eavesdropping at the Well: Interpretive Media in the Slavery in New York
Lubar, “Curator as Auteur”

Thursday, March 15 – skype with Green-Wood staff

*Data critique #5: Assigned project reviews

Project steps: Translating
Begin learning how to use tools to build maps & graphs
Create public user personas

Week 7: Mapping stories & story maps
Tuesday, March 27

Stamen Co., “Anatomy of a Web Map”
Diving into tools: Google Fusion, Palladio, CartoDB, Raw, Leaflet (advanced)

Thursday, March 29

Chimero, “What Screens Want.”
Digital and spatial tool reviews
Maps and story workshop

Project steps: Proposals
Submit proposals & reflections at the start of class on March 29

Week 8: Networks
Tuesday, April 3

Watts, Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age
Course site

Thursday, April 5

Milligan, Weingart, and Graham, excerpts from Exploring Big Historical Data: The Historian’s Macroscope
Course site

Project steps: Reviews
Group conferences

Week 9: Algorithmic Culture
Tuesday, April 10

Cutts, “How Search Works”
Madrigal, “How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood”

Thursday, April 12

Noble, Excerpt from Algorithms of Oppression
Course site

Project steps: Implementation
Begin to create wireframes, texts, and graphics

Week 10: Stories in public spaces
Tuesday, April 17

Brown & Crutchfield, “Black Scholars Matter: #BlkTwitterstorians Building a Digital Community.”
Cohen & Rosenzweigh, Read chapter “Building an Audience” from Digital History

Thursday, April 19

Evaluating digital projects round up

Project steps: Reviews
Project review workshop in class

Week 11: Working sessions
Tuesday, April 24

Troubleshooting with CDH staff and peers

Thursday, April 26

No class – I will be out of town

Project steps: Implementation (cont’d)
Assembly, user testing, and adjustments

Week 12: Presentations
Tuesday, May 1

Working session.

Thursday, May 3

Present the project (in class)

Reading Week
Tuesday, May 15

Project steps: Public release
Craft a press release & social media post(s)
All websites and projects should be made public and a link submitted via e-mail by May 15, 2018 at 11:59 PM.