Welcome to “If Text Then Code.” In this Digital Humanities course designed for students across disciplines, we will examine how text and code are equivalent and how computer science programs and tools are being used to address complex and research challenges in the humanities and social sciences. We will decode and encode texts to better understand how we read, and in the process challenge our preexisting understandings of literature, history, politics, and culture.
What does “If Text, Then Code” mean?
We learn about our world – we make sense of our world – through texts. Texts are made up of sentences and words and letters. We compile these words – these “code snippets”, if you will – into complex sets of instructions that help us to understand our world. We encode our lives – we inscribe our existence – through letters and numbers and symbols. Then we share these code snippets with one another, to share with one another our understandings and ask of others our questions about the world. We share our beliefs, our visions, our codes of conduct. We look for ways to reach out and express ourselves. That is writing. That is encoding. [continue reading]
What can you expect from this course?
You don’t have to be experienced with coding languages or be experienced with literary or historical texts to excel in this course. If things go according to plan you will get better at both over these fourteen weeks, and hopefully have some fun along the way.
How will this course be conducted?
Class work will be broken down into learning how these scripting and markup languages work, applying that learning to texts that you and I choose, reading about the work that others do and have done in the Digital Humanities related to text analysis, talking and writing about your experiences and readings, as well as annotating your code so that it makes sense to others (because writing code *is* writing.)
You will work on your own laptops on open-source software and on Bucknell-owned desktop computers (some software is only available for us to use in BERT 012). You don’t need to buy any texts or software programs for this course. Your readings will be available to you electronically via websites or downloadable PDFs. Sometimes we will work on exercises and assignments in class, but you will undertake the majority of your reading and writing (remember, that also includes coding) outside of class. Because none of us are subject experts in everything, we will help one another to learn and become proficient in different aspects of the course. Some assignments will be submitted individually, others will be developed in part or whole as small group work.
Because we cannot expect everything to always go according to plan, at the end of each course module we will stop and take stock of our progress, determine where we need to spend more time and where we can speed things up. Your input and feedback are important to this process, so don’t be afraid to speak up if something isn’t working properly.