Leading Class Discussion

Once during the semester you will be responsible for leading our class discussion. This means a few things:

  1. You should read all the readings—including the optional readings—for your week carefully and well in advance.
  2. You may also tweak our readings for your week by adding one additional article and possibly moving one required reading into the optional category. You should speak with me well in advance about either, as I might see something essential in a piece that is not obvious to you. Any decision to change the reading schedule should be made at least one week prior to your assigned session, so that your colleagues have time to adjust their preparations.
  3. You should come to your assigned class ready with a few questions or points you would like to discuss. I do not expect you to steer us for the entire discussion period, but certainly for the first 20 minutes or so.

Weekly Exercises

Most weeks we will have practice exercises or problem sets you should complete following class, which will allow you to practice the methods we discussed that week. You should get as far as you can with these, and visit me or Fitz during office hours if you’re struggling. In our first meeting, we will also determine a good day and time for weekly “Code Work Sessions.” These will be a regular day and time when Fitz and I will commit to being present for drop-in help with exercises and other challenges, as well as when class members can help each other. You will complete most of your exercises as R Markdown Notebooks for submission and/or later in-class reference.

Corpus Exploration Notebooks

Early in the semester, you will be choosing a corpus to focus on: either from data I provide or from a data source more closely aligned with your own research interests. Four times during the semester, you will create a R Markdown notebook which explores—through prose, code, and figures—your corpus using one or more of the methods we have covered in class to that point. These notebooks should not simply report the technical steps you followed—though they will do that—but should also strive toward scholarly writing, including referencing specific ideas from our readings and pushing toward historical or literary-historical claims about your corpus drawn from your computational methods. You should submit these notebooks as HTML files I can post on the course website. In order to prevent you pushing all this work to the semester’s end, at least 2 notebooks are due before spring break, and I strongly recommend you have the third well underway by then also.

Final Conference Paper

We will talk more about this as the semester develops, but at the end of the semester, you will write a conference paper which makes a historical argument on the basis of the corpus you have chosen. This paper will likely build on and even incorporate elements of your Corpus Exploration Notebooks. I suspect this paper will also be written as an R Markdown Notebook, but there may be some latitude with format.