Here you will find information on required readings, import university policies, and course-specific policies like attendance and cell phone use.

Required Texts

No textbooks are required for this course. All readings are provided in digital format. Wherever possible, I recommend printing materials for the purposes of reading and taking notes. Although many students express preference for digital reading materials, numerous studies have demonstrated that reading print materials will improve cognition and retention of the information you read, especially when the material calls for deep, sustained attention, which is most certainly the case with what we'll be reading for this class. For a summary of the various studies that have been conducted, see:

Lauren M. Singer & Patricia A. Alexander (2017) "Reading Across Mediums: Effects of Reading Digital and Print Texts on Comprehension and Calibration", The Journal of Experimental Education, 85:1, 155-172, DOI: 10.1080/00220973.2016.1143794

About the Recommended but Not Required Readings

For numerous topics on the weekly calendar, I have included a reading under the label "Recommended but Not Required." These supplemental materials are provided for your benefit. In some cases, such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on "Logical Empiricism," the resource is meant to provide some important background information that you might not have. In other cases, such as with Tanya E. Clement's, "'A thing not beginning and not ending': Using Digital Tools to Distant Read Gertrude Stein's The Making of Americans," I wanted to provide readings that focused on an implementation of an important topic or a case study bases on a method or approach discussed in another reading for the same week. Finally, supplemental readings will occasionally related to an in-class workshop. See the summary of Text Analysis Methods Workshops for more information.

Grade Breakdown

Attendance and Participation25See Attendance section below
Class Discussion Facilitator Assignment15 See Assignments
DH Code Snippet Analysis10 See Assignments
Proposal for Final Paper Assignment10See Assignments
Text Corpus for Final Paper Assignment10 See Assignments
Initial Results for Final Paper Assignment10 See Assignments
Final Paper Assignment20 See Assignments

E-mail Communication Policy

Each student is issued a University e-mail address (username@pitt.edu) upon admittance. This e-mail address may be used by the University for official communication with students. Students are expected to read e-mail sent to this account on a regular basis. Failure to read and react to University communications in a timely manner does not absolve the student from knowing and complying with the content of the communications. The University provides an e-mail forwarding service that allows students to read their e-mail via other service providers (e.g., Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo). Students that choose to forward their e-mail from their pitt.edu address to another address do so at their own risk. If e-mail is lost as a result of forwarding, it does not absolve the student from responding to official communications sent to their University e-mail address. To forward e-mail sent to your University account, go to http://accounts.pitt.edu, log into your account, click on Edit Forwarding Addresses, and follow the instructions on the page. Be sure to log out of your account when you have finished. (For the full E-mail Communication Policy, go to www.bc.pitt.edu/policies/policy/09/09-10-01.html.)

A Note on E-mail Etiquette

When you send me an email, please follow some basic conventions of formality and politeness. There's no need to construct the equivalent of a business letter, but please don't begin your message with "hey," and please take an extra moment to make sure you spelled my name correctly. I promise to show you the same courtesy.

A Note on Office Hours

I use a digital tool for office hours appointment management. If you go to the website https://lavin-office-hours.youcanbook.me/, you will see a real-time account of when I am available. My standard appointment slots are Mondays and Wednesdays, but a slot will appear in gray if I'm already booked. You are welcome to drop by if I appear to be free, but it's generally a better idea to make an appointment well in advance if you have something important to discuss with me.

As some of you may already know, I also hold separate office hours for faculty and graduate students consultations in connection with my role as Director of the Digital Media Lab, which can be accessed at https://matt-lavin.youcanbook.me/. These appointment blocks are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You are welcome to make an appointment using either calendar or to e-mail me to request an appointment at a different time.


Cell phones should be off and put away. Laptops are okay for notes and such, but you should not be messaging, using Facebook, etc. I’ll check screens regularly give you a verbal warning on your first offense. After that, I reserve the right to ask you to leave class and mark you absent if you are creating a distraction.

Disability Resource Services

If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and the Office of Disability Resources and Services, 140 William Pitt Union, 412-648-7890, as early as possible in the term. Disability Resources and Services will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.

Academic Integrity Policy

Cheating/plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students suspected of violating the University of Pittsburgh Policy on Academic Integrity, noted below, will be required to participate in the outlined procedural process as initiated by the instructor. A minimum sanction of a zero score for the quiz, exam or paper will be imposed. (For the full Academic Integrity policy, go to www.provost.pitt.edu/info/ai1.html.)

Sexual Harassment

The University of Pittsburgh will not tolerate sexual assault/sexual harassment. Complete details of the University’s Sexual Harassment Policy may be found and read in its entirety at http://www.provost.pitt.edu/information-on/antiharassment_statement.html. This policy provides a variety of individuals on each University of Pittsburgh campus who should be contacted with questions or concerns.

A Note about Code and Some Resources

The course description for this seminar states that "Digital Humanities Approaches to Textual Objects" will attempt to prepare students to use digital humanities methods to pursue their own research questions by anchoring theoretical and methodological readings with a capstone, computational project that encourages students to bring their own disciplines’ text-based materials into their work for the course. To this end, we will work closely with the Python programming language to better understand the iterative processes and scholarly decisions one must make when writing code in the humanities. Students will not be evaluated by their programming skill; however, willingness to engage in hands-on work is essential.

I elaborate in my presentation slides from the first week of class that you don't have to learn to code, but various assignments ask you to look at code, think about code, and engage with code. My workshops will use Python, but you can do your final paper using code or software of your choice, with the caveat that I may not know how to use the tool you want to use.

All this said, some of you may wish to learn to code, or improve your coding skills. That's great, and I want to help. In addition to taking this course, you can tap into a wide variety of resources at Pitt, and beyond. Here is a partial list that will continue to flesh out as things occur to me

Research Computing Education at Pitt (RCE@Pitt) is an initative from the School of Computing and Information to provide graduate students, postdocs, researchers, faculty, and staff the opportunity to learn the computing skills and techniques needed for data and computationally intense research.

Workshop: Introduction to Network Analysis and Visualization: Networks -- graphs that relate elements (nodes) with properties (edges) -- have applications in many disciplines, from business to biology, from physics to literary studies; social network analysis is one high-profile application. This workshop will introduce the basics of working with networks, including some of common methods of analysis and tools for visualization.

Introduction to Text Analysis in the Digital Humanities: Text analysis, as a digital research methodology, uses algorithms to analyze and structure digital texts. The linguistic, statistical, and machine learning techniques used in text analysis can provide scholars with fresh perspectives and enable them to explore, interpret, and theorize about texts in new ways. This workshop will introduce some text analysis tools and best practices.

CMU Digital Humanities Faculty Research Group: Weekly series of talks at CMU

DHRX Calendar: Lists various DH events, talks, etc.

codecademy.com: excellent courses on Python

lynda.pitt.edu: Various Python courses (video format)

datacamp.com:Data science focus, lots of Python content. Some lessons free, some behind a subscriber wall

Certificate Credit

This course counts for the cultural studies graduate certificate and the GSWS graduate certificate. It is also an elective in the DSAM certificate program.

The Pitt Promise: A Commitment to Civility (from Pitt's Code of Conduct)

The University of Pittsburgh is committed to the advancement of learning and service to society. This is best accomplished in an atmosphere of mutual respect and civility, self-restraint, concern for others, and academic integrity. By choosing to join this community, I accept the obligation to live by these common values and commit myself to the following principles:

As a Pitt Student:

  • I will embrace the concept of a civil community which abhors violence, theft, and exploitation of others;
  • I will commit myself to the pursuit of knowledge with personal integrity and academic honesty;
  • I will respect the sanctity of the learning environment and avoid disruptive and deceitful behavior
  • toward other members of the campus community;
  • I will support a culture of diversity by respecting the rights of those who differ from myself;
  • I will contribute to the development of a caring community where compassion for others and freedom of thought and expression are valued; and
  • I will honor, challenge and contribute to the scholarly heritage left by those who preceded me and work to leave this a better place for those who follow.

By endorsing these common principles, I accept a moral obligation to behave in ways that contribute to a civil campus environment and resolve to support this behavior in others. This commitment to civility is my promise to the University of Pittsburgh and its community of scholars.