Text Analysis for Digital Humanists and Social Scientists

History 100S

Spring 2017
Laura Nelson
458 Evans
Day & Time: 
MW 10-12
Class Number: 

Increasingly, humanity’s cultural material is being captured and stored in the form of electronic text. From historical documents, literature and poems, diaries, political speeches, and government documents, to emails, text messages, and social media, students from the humanities and social sciences now have access to immense amounts of rich, and diverse, text. This course will introduce students to cutting edge ways of structuring, analyzing, and interpreting digitized text-as-data, and will do so by exploring questions fundamental to the humanities and social sciences. The ultimate goal is to encourage students to think about novel ways they can apply these techniques to their own text and research questions, and to provide the skills necessary to apply the methods in their own research. We will use the open source (and free!) programming language Python. We will also provide demonstration corpora relevant to both the humanities and social sciences.

Specific skills covered include structuring and pre-processing text, dictionary methods, supervised and unsupervised machine learning, word scores and word weighting, grammar-parsing and concordances, working with metadata, and crowd-based content analysis. Then, through a series of lectures, small group projects, and tutorials in Python, students will learn how to load, pre-process, analyze, and interpret text data using all of these methods. Advanced undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty with no prior knowledge of text analysis are encouraged to enroll.

Laura K. Nelson is a sociologist who uses computational methods to study social movements, culture, gender, institutions, and the history of feminism. She is interested in further developing automated text analysis methods and best-practices for sociology and digital humanities. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2014-2016 she was a postdoc in Management and Organizations in the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She is currently an assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at Northeastern University in Boston, but is on leave this year as a fellow for Digital Humanities @ Berkeley and the Berkeley Institute for Data Science at the University of California, Berkeley.