Digital Humanities in the Department of English
Photo credit: Stephanie Camerone
The Department of English is one of the most exciting places to study digital humanities in the world. Students are immersed in many applications of new media, computer algorithms, and advanced imaging to explore questions central to the study of literature across history and continents.
Department faculty direct a range of cutting-edge digital projects. Jump into an exciting world where code grapples with art and faculty and students work together to create digital archives out of the materials of poets, scholars, journalists, explorers, and novelists.
Our digital humanities curriculum offers multiple opportunities for students of all levels to learn about a vibrant, rapidly expanding field, to take part in the development of established projects, and to use innovative methods to pursue their own research questions.
Our close relationship with the internationally recognized Center for Digital Research in the Humanities (CDRH) allows students to engage in exciting Center-sponsored activities and to get a first-hand view of complex digital humanities project development.
For more on DH in the Department of English, contact the current department DH coordinator, Adrian Wisnicki, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Studying DH in the Classroom
Linda Garcia Merchant
Graduate Student, Department of English
“DH technology-based courses have given me opportunities to learn and apply text analysis and interpretation applications. Collaborative courses have provided project development and management opportunities to developing project proposals and work with the non profit community to create sustainable products and processes.
“As a 2017 Digital Scholar Incubator (DSI) Fellow, I was able to craft an Omeka collection site and a Scalar multi-media site for the case study I am using for my dissertation. The time as a DSI, along with the exercises in ideation critical to the creative process, created a unique combination of time and space for intense interpretive experimentation and critique, now reflected in the rich and varied narrative of final Scalar site production.
“Finally, I am a multi-modal scholar and teacher because I have implemented much of the technology and collaborative processes I learned through my DH courses. I integrate organic pedagogy with available technologies to provide my composition and rhetoric students a platform of new and exciting ways to explore and articulate complex ideas and texts. The methodologies DH offers continues to shorten the distance between the ways I can successfully construct and explore narrative ideas in the classroom and in my own scholarship.”
Digital Humanities Student Association
Graduate Student, Department of English President, Digital Humanities Student Association
“The Digital Humanities Student Association (DHSA) is a student organization that supports graduate and undergraduate students working within the field of digital humanities while fostering a larger awareness of our methods and research across the university and in the surrounding community.
“As a part of this goal our association organizes an annual DH Bootcamp and Wikipedia Edit-a-thon to foster community outreach; hosts monthly Dialogue sessions where invited speakers share research, hold roundtables, or present projects; and takes part in University-sponsored events to expand our campus presence.
“At our meetings students from different disciplines with diverse methods, outlooks, and goals come together to offer support as an engaged collective. DHSA allows me to leap outside of my disciplines and interact with diverse perspectives, free of judgment. In DHSA there is always another student ready to support me and supply me with their knowledge which introduces new and exciting ways of thinking into my work.”
In our DH classrooms and in collaborative project settings, students can study a vast range of subjects: from the most innovative DH theories and technologies such as spectral imaging and text analysis to the nuts and bolts of grant writing and site development. Adrian S. Wisnicki Associate Professor
Being Human in the Digital Age (ENGL 277)
Introduction to Digital Humanities (ENGL 278)
Digital Literary Analysis (ENGL 279)
Sample section: “Development and Design”
Theorizing the Digital (ENGL 375)
Literary Studies in the Digital Age (ENGL 378)
Sample section: "Romantics, Victorians, and the Impact of the Digital Humanities"
Reading Technologies from Antiquity to the Digital Age (ENGL 379)
Digital Humanities Practicum (ENGL 472/872)
Sample sections: “Macroanalysis,” “DH Project Planning & Development: First Steps”
Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities (ENGL 477/877)
Digital Archives and Editions (ENGL 478/878)
Readings in the Digital Humanities (ENGL 946)
We teach students to think about digital media within the larger context of the social, political, and intellectual history of technology. Our students pursue digital projects and careers equipped with an understanding of how their work shapes culture. Amanda Gailey Associate Professor
Imaginative Reasoning and the Digital Humanities
Imaginative reasoning helps us "re-frame how we look at the world” and is vividly illustrated by teaching and research in digital humanities. DH reframes the way we have traditionally seen, understood, analyzed, published, and preserved our cultural heritage. All of these processes, long taken for granted, can be analyzed and, to varying extents, remade.
Scholarship in DH tends to be collaborative rather than solitary in nature. The team-oriented approach means that questions larger than one person could undertake can be addressed. The scholarly products of DH can hold transformative potential when they allow the public to participate in the creation or reconsideration of cultural knowledge.
Traditional academic hierarchies are also frequently unsettled in a DH working environment. Study of the past always involves selection, and sometimes academic focus has been too narrowly restricted to an archive of texts that limit what we can imagine as our usable past. The more expansive sets of data now purporting to be our past have their own problems of collection and curation, but they are more complete than what we’ve worked with in the past. Being self-conscious about even their limitations can help move us forward socially and intellectually.
Our digital humanities students aren't just doing projects—they're inventing them and leading them. We are helping Nebraska's students bring creativity to code, so that they can be innovators in an ever-shifting electronic world. Matt Cohen Professor of English and Contributing Editor, Walt Whitman Archive
Key Opportunities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Center for Digital Research in the Humanities (CDRH)
Digital humanities faculty and students in the Department of English work closely with the university's distinguished Center for Digital Research in the Humanities (CDRH). Without the staff and resources of the Center, which is a joint initiative of the University Libraries and the College of Arts & Sciences, most of the Department of English projects listed above would not have been possible. The Center works with scholars and departments across the university, sponsors various activities related to digital humanities practice, and offers undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to hone their technical skills while taking part in cutting edge digital humanities research. For more on the Center, contact its co-directors Kay Walter at email@example.com and Ken Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Digital Scholarship Incubator
The University Libraries' Digital Scholarship Incubator (DSI) is a competitive program that supports graduate students’ digital research and scholarship. Fellows receive a stipend to perform research for the summer. They enjoy one-on-one and group consultations with a range of faculty and staff in the University Libraries and elsewhere, co-working space, hardware, software, and other professional development opportunities in addition to the cohort experience. For more information about the DSI, contact Elizabeth Lorang.
Nebraska Forum on Digital Humanities
The Nebraska Forum on Digital Humanities is an annual thematic exploration of issues in Digital Humanities. Sponsored by the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities and bringing speakers from institutions around the world, the Forum has been organized around topics like Social Justice and Cultural Memory, Video Games and the Humanities, and Digital Cultural Heritage.
We offer students the opportunity to study the type of writing that underlies nearly all new media forms: namely, programming. Stephen Ramsay Susan J. Rosowski Associate Professor of English
The Graduate Certificate
The Graduate Certificate Program in Digital Humanities allows graduate and post-baccalaureate students to gain scholarly credentials in Digital Humanities. Work in this area can take a variety of forms, including: digital scholarly editing; the creation of thematic research archives and resources; programmatic analysis of large-scale textual corpora; the use of geo-spatial tools and technologies to study the interaction of people and place; data mining and machine learning techniques using historical data; 3D modeling of historical buildings and artifacts; tool building and software development for humanities research; and the creation of games, interactive environments, and media systems with a humanistic focus.
English Major Concentration
Undergraduate English majors design their own concentration - a program of study based on their areas of interest, organized around a controlling theme or topic. Majors can design a concentration in digital humanities by meeting with their advisor.
The Undergraduate Minor Certificate
The minor in digital humanities offers a wide range of courses that allow students to explore how digital technologies alter our understanding of ourselves, our art, our history, and our culture. Students learn how to critically engage with digital media, and many courses introduce students to digital techniques for research, analysis, and publication. Each student gains experience with hands-on, creative digital work, and several courses provide students opportunities to conceive and build digital projects independently and with teams of other students. The range of electives available for the digital humanities minor, combined with frequent special topics courses that can easily be substituted in, means that students can find distinctive groups of courses that speak to their interests in literature, history, archeology, classics, art history, 3D modeling, text analysis, digital archives, and more. Graduates with a digital humanities minor are well prepared for a growing number of careers in industry, nonprofit, and educational sectors that welcome digital skills alongside the communication and critical thinking abilities that have long been valued in humanities students. Students have also gone on to pursue graduate work in the humanities, library science, and information science, among other disciplines.
The students I work with on the Whitman Archive have reshaped our understanding of a cultural icon. I’m proud of their achievements—including new discoveries, published articles, NEH grants, and both alt-ac jobs and tenure-line professorships. Kenneth M. Price Hillegass University Professor of American Literature
Digital Humanities Faculty
Brett Barney is a research associate professor in the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities and has been involved in the creation and maintenance of the Walt Whitman Archive since 2000. He served two terms on the technical council of the Text Encoding Initiative and is especially interested in encoding protocols that support the creation of documentary editions and the identification of various, complex relationships among documents and parts of documents.
Matt Cohen is a contributing editor at the Walt Whitman Archive, where his projects include digitizing Whitman’s marginal annotations, building a visualizable handlist of reprints of Whitman’s poetry, and improving access to translations of Whitman’s work. That work informed his book Whitman’s Drift: Imagining Literary Distribution (University of Iowa Press, 2017).
Amanda Gailey’s research and teaching interests include nineteenth-century American literature, digital editing, and the sociopolitical implications of technology.
Nicole Gray helps to edit and manage the Walt Whitman Archive, overseeing grant projects and wrangling Whitman’s often unreadable handwriting into machine-readable files. A scholar of book history and nineteenth-century literature by training, she loves to spend mornings reading poetry and afternoons writing scripts that transform it into data for web display or analysis.
Andy Jewell is the director of the Willa Cather Archive, a large online archive and publisher of digital resources relating to the American author (like the Complete Letters of Willa Cather, debuting in January 2018). After years of experience creating a digital research collection, he seeks to explore connections between his DH work and public humanities programming, likely through new forms like community events and short films.
Elizabeth Lorang co-directs Image Analysis for Archival Discovery, a cross-disciplinary, multi-institution project that seeks to leverage the information potential of digital images to enhance discovery and access to historic materials. She is also the co-editor of a digital edition of newspaper poetry from the Anglo-African and National Anti-Slavery Standard.
Kenneth M. Price co-directs the Walt Whitman Archive, Civil War Washington, and the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. With Ray Siemens, Elizabeth Lorang, and Dene Grigar, he co-edits Literary Studies in the Digital Age: An Evolving Anthology, the Modern Language Association’s first online only publication.
Stephen Ramsay splits his time between pontificating about digital humanities, teaching humanities majors to program, designing and building text technologies for humanist scholars, and composing music using computers. He is the author of Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism (University of Illinois Press, 2011) and (with Patrick Juola) Six Septembers: Mathematics for the Humanist (Zea E-Books, 2017).
Adrian S. Wisnicki is interested in applying advanced imaging to manuscript study and developing digital archives and museums. He directs both Livingstone Online and the Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project, two collaborative international projects funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. His research spans several areas including digital humanities and Victorian, African, and postcolonial studies.