English 197 — Intro to DH (F 2022) – Assignments

Assignments for English 197 (Fall 2022)

Introduction to Digital Humanities

This is the main course website. There is also a course Canvas site for uploading assignments.

There are three graded assignments in this course in addition to a grade for participation in class discussion. Assignments may be turned in by uploading them to the course Canvas siteNote that “project proposal” assignments require students only to design the concepts for projects, not actually to execute them. Manicule See also Course Policies regarding attendance and academic integrity.

1. Practicum Assignments

Due various dates

30% of Final Grade

Course “practicums” are small-scale, hands-on exercises that ask students to experiment at a beginner’s level with the methods and tools of the digital humanities.

Reason for Assignment: The goal is not technical mastery but learning enough about the technologies to think about, and through, their concepts and also to discover which methods and tools might be used in a student’s future research. In many cases, experience gained in the practicums will contribute directly to the discussion of issues in class.

Outputs from Practicums: Outputs should be uploaded on Canvas as a post in the discussion board set up for each practicum. (Posts on the discussion board can include links or attachments–e.g., an attachment of a Word document containing explanatory text, tables, and screenshots.) Posts in these practicum discussion boards will be viewable by all members of the class.

Grading of Practicums: Practicums will be graded cumulatively instead of individually. At about the middle of the quarter, Prof. Liu will provide each student with an assessment of how they have been doing in their practicums so far (e.g., whether a student is doing A or B-level work). Then at the end of the quarter, Prof. Liu will give a cumulative grade for a student’s practicums. The grade will be based on the following criteria:

Grading Rubric for Practicums:
  • Effort
  • Creativity
  • Quality of materials representing outputs from a practicum (including comments or reflections on an exercise when that is requested)
  • Note: technical skill is not by itself a criterion for the grade a student earns on the practicums. For example, it is possible to fail at getting a method or tool to “work” but still to do well on a practicum based on effort, comments on what you learned even if you couldn’t complete the exercise, etc.

2. Project Concept Proposal 1 — Text Analysis Project Proposal

Due by Class 9, Oct. 20

20% of Final Grade

Write a short concept proposal (about 4-5 pages, or 1,200-1,500 words) for a text analysis project. Write as if you are making a proposal to a education funding agency or foundation that has a grant competition for students interested in the digital humanities. As in the case of any grant application, the project is at this stage still only a hypotehtical one (and for this course you need not actually implement or complete it). However, your proposal should be full and detailed enough for the funder to evaluate how valuable, well thought out, well researched, and practically planned the project is.

The proposal should include:

  • Title for project
  • Abstract (250 words)
  • Project Description (also known as project “narrative” or “rationale”), including:
    • An overview of what the project will do and why. (This overview should give a sense of the context and significance of the project. For example, if your project is about using text analysis to compare the original language of Jane Austen’s novels with that of TV or film adaptations of Austen, then you could choose to set the project in a context like any of the following in order to state its significance: context of contemporary society (do differences between Austen’s language and screen adaptations tell us anything about the values of modern society versus early 19th-century English society?); context of literary history (what are some of the kinds of language in Austen that drop out of the picture in modern adaptations, and do they tell us something about the period-specific nature of novelistic language at the beginning fo the 19th century?); context of literary form or method (does comparing Austen’s novels and screen adaptations using text analysis tell us anything interesting about the nature of film as a form by comparison with the novel form?)
      • For an example of a project proposal overview, see the section titled “Narrative” in an actual grant proposal that Prof. Liu once submitted.
      • For anorher example of a proposal that outlines research goals and context, see the WhatEvery1Says (WE1S) grant proposal to the Mellon Foundation written by Prof.  Liu (abbreviated version). See pages 4 (beginning with “WE1S adds uniquely to this broader field of research and advocacy by using digital humanities methods…”) to 7 (“Expected Audiences and Outcomes”). This is an example of proposing research directions (and questions), sketching “expected” outcomes, etc.
    • An “environmental scan” (as it is known in grant proposals) identifying and describing previous works/projects that are relevant to your project because they are comparable, are related to aspects of your project, or help you imagine what you want your project to do or how it will innovate on what others have already done. It is especially useful to include in the environmental scan not an unorganized list of works but a structured sampler of items of a few different kinds touching on different areas of your project (e.g., studies of Austen, text analyses of 19th-century fiction, studies of screen adaptation, etc.)†† [For an example of an environmental scan, see the section titled “Innovation & Environmental Scan:” in an actual grant proposal that Prof. Liu once submitted.]
    • A detailed description of project materials (e.g., what texts you will be working with and their source), methods, tools, and expected outputs.
      • Even though you will not be fully implementing or completing your proposed project, you should include in this description examples and trial runs or proofs-of-concept. For example, include such things as follows:†††
        • Sample of “cleaned” text from the materials you want to work with.
        • Sample of your stopword list (including any custom-added stopwords)
        • Sample of results from experimental text analyses you have done with a small set of your materials.
Proposal length or word count does not include images, appendices, bibliography, etc.
†† Use either MLA style or Chicago style for citations. If you wish, you can include the full citations as a separate bibliography at the bottom of your proposal
††† If you wish, you can include these materials in a separate Appendix at the bottom of your proposal.

3. Project Concept Proposal 2 — Final Project Proposal

Due Dec. 6    (presentation due in class on Dec. 1; final proposal due after classes on Dec. 6

40% of Final Grade

The final assignment for the course is a longer concept proposal (about 10-12 pages, or 3,000-3,600 words) for a digital humanities project that includes using at least two different kinds of methods (e.g., text analysis, topic modeling, social network analysis  mapping, etc.) (If you wish, you can build on the proposal you previously created for a text analysis project for part of this final project proposal. But if you do so there should be significant expansion or revision of the previous proposal, including, for example, more outputs from text analysis experiments.)

The project proposal should include the same elements for a proposal described above for the previous proposal.

  • For an example of a proposal that outlines research goals and context, see the WhatEvery1Says (WE1S) grant proposal to the Mellon Foundation written by Prof.  Liu (abbreviated version). See pages 3 to 7. This is an example of proposing research directions (and questions), sketching “expected” outcomes, etc.

4. Class Participation

10% of Final Grade

Ten percent of a student’s final grade in the course will be assigned based on Prof. Liu’s assessment of the amount and quality of participation in class discussion and the overall level of engagement during classes.


This is the main course website. There is also a course Canvas site for uploading assignments.