This course will give an overview of how computational tools have recently been used to study patterns of cultural change. It begins by tracing how computational techniques entered the study of culture and the humanities and how these led up to contemporary big data approaches. Using digital tools and data challenges the very nature of the objects under investigation by putting them into new spatial, ontological and materialised forms. The course will examine how this happens in several areas of digital research, including the large-scale analysis of text in literature, the visualisation of intellectual and creative networks, and the use of the Web to document historical patterns. The course will also chart transformations in scholarly practices, including the creation of data infrastructures, digital archives and crowdsourced approaches. Finally, it will put digital research into the context of debates about the study of culture and about the relations between disciplines.
This option provides MSc Social Science of the Internet students (from any disciplinary background) with the opportunity to understand and work with cultural data and research, and to learn more about the ways in which technology is shaping our understanding of the book, the film, the museum, and cultural practice. This option will prepare students for potential research projects on topics relating to arts, humanities and cultural data, using social science methods and approaches.
At the end of the course, students will:
- Have a solid grasp of approaches to culture and quantification
- Understand the gains and limitations of digital research in the study of culture
- Be able to evaluate scholarly practices and how they contribute to the study of culture from different disciplinary perspectives
- Be able to frame research on topics related to the analysis of culture using computational tools