Career Readiness through Digital Humanities
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “digital humanities” and aren’t sure what it means, or what it has to do with your college and career plans. Read on to learn more about this exciting field and the opportunities FSU offers to humanities students to develop important 21st-century workplace skills!
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What is "digital humanities"?
Digital humanities (DH) is an emerging field that seeks to make complex data more accessible to the general public. FSU English professor Dr. Bartholomew Brinkman defines digital humanities as “using digital methods or computer processing to ask and answer some long-standing humanities questions.” So, through DH, you use computational tools to better understand complex data and solve problems within humanities texts such as historical documents, literature, translations, music, and works of art.
DH includes collecting data using a variety of programs and tools; analyzing data by creating visualizations; and improving accessibility, both for those with disabilities and those facing physical or economic barriers.
How will DH enhance my classroom and internship experience?
As you work on DH projects, you’ll develop a variety of technological skills, including website and graphic design, content management, and data analysis, to complement your humanities training—and employers are looking to hire college graduates who have these skills!
In your classes and internships, you might do some or all of the following:
- Analyze literary texts to find repeated words and how they may be used in different contexts
- Transcribe physical texts onto an online platform for preservation and increased accessibility
- Create visualizations, such as word clouds, maps, and graphs, to better understand large amounts of data from humanities texts
- Use common content management systems (CMS), even without programming experience, to present your DH projects online
DH brings you a new perspective on the humanities texts you might study in an English or History course, for example. By using DH tools to turn texts into data, you can pursue research questions on a much larger scale, such as comparing and contrasting themes across thousands of novels, or pinpointing and cross-referencing historical events using maps and timelines. Plus, you’ll have opportunities to present your research in creative new ways, such as by developing educational video games or interactive websites featuring metadata and digitized media. Not only does DH provide you with valuable skills, but it’s also a lot of fun!
In your DH courses, you’ll get to experiment with a variety of tools, such as
- Graphic Commons: turn data points into visual clusters or maps
- Google Ngram Viewer: analyze language trends across books over many years
- Oxygen XML Editor: edit extensible markup language (XML) documents and add metadata tags to them
- Tableau: create data cultures and synch to the cloud for easy access and sharing
- Voyant Tools: analyze a text’s corpus and word trends, as well as create word clouds
For example, in a recent Introduction to Digital Humanities class, Dr. Joseph Adelman’s history students (Early Journals Project) used digital humanities tech tools to input the text of and analyze early American journals. Such digital tools helped them to map out and color-code locations, travel patterns, and timelines, and to compare human transcription with that of artificial intelligence. Some of the digital tools that students learned to use include Constellant, Voyant, Omeka, and optical character recognition tools.
Ultimately, DH can lead you to fascinating new discoveries, while also helping you prepare for your future career!
Can I minor in DH?
Yes! Framingham State offers an interdisciplinary minor in digital humanities. No matter what your major is, you can add a digital humanities minor to complement your academic coursework and to help you be competitive on the job market!
The DH minor includes a variety of courses in programming, website development, design, data analysis, social media, and other key areas. Talk to your advisor about adding the minor in Digital Humanities so you can hone your technological skills, improve your textual analysis, and develop important career competencies!
How can DH help me in my career?
No matter what field you go into, every industry uses some form of data to improve products and services. Studying DH helps you be able to understand and simplify big data–an important ability for many jobs. The DH-related skills you acquire from analyzing trends across literature or historical documents, for example, are easily transferable to any professional environment.
Taking DH courses will enhance your digital literacy, which continues to be in high demand by employers worldwide.
You can read some recent articles to find out more about the importance and value of (digital) humanities for the 21st-century workforce:
- Jennifer Schuessler (New York Times), "Reading by the Numbers: When Big Data Meets Literature"
- Bruce Janz, (HuffPost), "The World Is Complex -- That's Why We Need All Of Us"
- Eoin O'Carroll (Christian Science Monitor), "When the humanities meet big data"
What does DH look like at FSU?
In addition to offering DH courses and the interdisciplinary minor, Framingham State is also home to a new Center for Digital Humanities (CDH). Funded by a $192,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the CDH (located in the Whittemore Library) is ready to help you engage with the world of DH by teaching you how to use DH tools, offering student internships and faculty grants, and providing thousands of digitized texts to the university.
When you come to Framingham State, you’ll meet faculty that engage in DH both within their classrooms and through their academic projects. With the field’s growing presence on campus, you too can take part in courses and internships, working closely with faculty to enhance your learning.
Check out some DH-related projects led by FSU humanities faculty!
- American Book Publishers, 1865-1920 : Dr. Lucas Dietrich’s site on American Book Publishers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
- Framingham State African Art Teaching Collection: Dr. Yumi Park’s gallery for African art, such as masks and figurines.
- Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller Database: Dr. Erika Schneider's website and database on the Harlem Renaissance sculptor Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller.
- Kit Marlowe Project: Dr. Kristen Abbott Bennett’s collaborative project on works by Christopher Marlowe, providing resources, images about Marlowe’s life, and games.
- Modern American Poetry Site (MAPS): Dr. Bartholomew Brinkman’s and Dr. Cary Nelson’s renowned site listing, discussing, and preserving the works of contemporary American poets (note: Dr. Nelson is professor emeritus at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign).