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Practicum Instructions

Page history last edited by Alan Liu 6 years, 4 months ago


Course "practicums" are hands-on, small-scale exercises that ask students to experiment at a beginner's level with the tools of the digital humanities. Classes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 in the course each include a practicum that should be completed before class.  (Students have a choice of either the class 7 or 8 practicums.) Typically, a practicum asks students to try out a digital tool and method, then to leave an interesting "souvenir" on a page they create on the Student Work site for this course.  The "souvenir" can be as simple as a screenshot of, or link to, something created (or found) during the exploration.  (Practicums are required to pass the course, but are not graded.) 



General Instructions for Leaving a "Souvenir" of Practicum Exercises


(i) First perform your practicum exercise

(See the instructions for the individual practicums further below on this page).


(ii) For each practicum, go to the Student Work part of the course Web site.

     (a) Select the "Pages & Files"  tab,

     (b) Click on "New",

     (c) then "Create a Page":


Create new page dialogue on PBWorks site


(iii) Name the page "Your Name - Practicum Name Exercise" (e.g., "Jane Smith - Google Books Ngram Viewer Exercise"), and use the "Put this page in a folder" drop-down list to place it in the appropriate folder on the site for that practicum (so that we can easily find all the student pages for a practicum together).
        Note: practicum folders are named such things as "Practicum 1 - Google Books Ngram Viewer." Each practicum folder also contains a sub-folder called "Images and files." Save your page in the main practicum folder, not in "Images and files." The sub-folder is where we will eventually move all image and other files you upload to the site in creating your pages (because periodically sweeping those into a subfolder will help us de-clutter the main folder.) 


PBworks - Name Page and Assign to Folder


(iv) Open your new page is open, and select the "Edit" tab in the top menu.  Then add your textual or other content.  


PBwworks - edit


(v) You can upload images and other media from your computer to the site using the "Images and files" tab in the sidebar at the right of the editing interface.  Once the images are uploaded, then you can add them at your cursor location while editing a page by clicking on the link for the image in the sidebar. You can also link from your page to media and files that you have uploaded (or, of course, media and files that are online elsewhere). Important: the course site can host a limited amount of media. If you have large media files you wish to use (e.g., audio or video), you will need to link to them somewhere else online.


PBworks upload and use media tab


(vi) By default, editing is done in GUI or graphical user interface that shows you approximately what the final result will be.  However, you can also edit in the source-code view by toggling "source" in the editing interface:


PBworks - source code view


Practicum 1 Instructions - Google Books Ngram Viewer (for class 2)


  1. Experiment with Google Books Ngram Viewer. Try a few experiments with different terms, numbers of terms, and the parameters that can be configured (for the latter, see About Ngram Viewer) (see also Cheat sheet of parameters that can be set in using the Ngram Viewer).  When you find an interesting or intriguing result, think about what would be your next step if you were a researcher looking into the topic.
  2. Create at least one souvenir of your experimentation in the form of a screen shot or saved link to your Google Books Ngram search that you put on a page you create in the Folder for Practicum 1. (Name your page: "Your Name - Google Books Ngram Exercise")

    P.S.: You may also find it fun to try the Bookworm:Movies viewer (which performs similar analytics on language in films based on their subtitles).  See also Bookworm:Simpsons for all 25 seasons of The Simpsons.



Practicum 2 Instructions- Text Encoding (for class 3)


The purpose of this encoding exercise is to engage in just enough elementary encoding of text or other media in HTML to allow all students to engage in discussion during Class 3 about the underlying premises, concepts, and structure of text encoding.
        For tutorials and beginner guides to HTML go to the instructor's DH Toychest and look at the section on the Tutorials page on "HTML & CSS." Important: students who are beginners should not be intimidated by this assignment. Use the tutorials to learn the most basic concepts and try the most elementary encoding.  Your experiment doesn't even have to work; it can "fail" in instructive or interesting ways.


  1. Create a page for your your exercise in the Folder for Practicum 2. (Name your page: "Your Name - Text Encoding Exercise".)
  2. Experiment with HTML encoding. Open your new page for the exercise and select the "Edit" tab in the top menu.  Then click the "Source" button ("a" in illustration below) in the editing interface menu to toggle from the GUI (graphical user interface) editing view to the source-code view. This allows you to do plain-text encoding. You can always toggle back to the GUI view for a quick check on your work or as a cheat-sheet for basic encoding of HTML features. Be sure to "save" your work as you go ("b").

    PBWorks source code editng 

Using the source-code view as much as possible, create a simple web page with any content, images, and links you wish (subject, of course, to good taste and copyright laws).  The page should include at least the following features:

    1. Text formatted in basic ways (as headers, bold, italics, etc.)
    2. Text in paragraph structures
    3. Text in lists
    4. Links
    5. A table
    6. An image 


  1. Optional: CSS text-encoding exercise: CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is used often used to alter the format and style of HTML elements on a Web page. If you wish, you can experiment with some simple CSS to adjust the look and position of HTML elements on your test page. Due to the way this PBWorks web site for Student Work is established for our course, you cannot create a separate CSS stylesheet file or adjust the one that controls the overall site.  But you can use "inline" CSS--i.e., CSS contained in tags on your page itself--for simple experiments. For example:
    1. Adjust the alignment, size, location, color, or background-color, etc. of a paragraph by putting CSS in a paragraph tag.
    2. Create a box around a paragraph using the border attribute. Example:

      <p style="margin-left: 3em; padding: 1em; font-size: 115%; background-color: #cccccc; border: 1px solid #eb5500;">[your content]</p>

    3. Use a <span> tag around individual words or phrases to change their color, size, etc.



Practicum 3 Instructions - Text Analysis (for class 4)


  • 1. Download onto your computer the Antconc text-analysis program (available for Mac, Windows, Linux). Antconc comes as a simple executable file that does not need to be "installed." You just run the file. (Note: if you do not have a computer you can use for this purpose, see your TA or the professor for suggestions of labs available for use on campus and in the English department.)
    • Note for Mac Users: When you try to open AntConc, there will be a security message that says the app was prevented from opening. In order to get around this, you need to click the Apple icon, go to System Preferences, then Security & Privacy, and (if you haven’t already) change your preferences to Allow apps downloaded from "App Store and identified developers." Even if these are your settings, the system will prevent AntConc from opening (it’s not an identified developer), but there will be a caption next to the radio buttons that says something along the lines of “AntConc was prevented from opening” and a button labeled “Open Anyway.” Click Open Anyway, and you shouldn’t have any issues running the application after that. 
  • 2. Find or create a plain-text (.txt) version of a long literary work or collection of works. Possible sources:
    • One of the literary or related collections of works available in plain-text form in this section of the professor's Digital Humanities Toychest site.
  • 3. Study your chosen work(s) with Antconc.  Then take "souvenirs" of your explorations with Antconc (hopefully something interesting) that you can show your TA (e.g., screenshots, exports into spreadsheets, etc.).


  • Tutorials for Antconc:
  • Instructions for using a "stopwords" list in Antconc (to filter out common words like "the," "of," etc.):
    • Download the following stopwords list and save it as (or copy it into) a plain-text "txt" file on your computer: buckley-salton.txt
    • Open Antconc,
      • click on "Tool Preferences" among the tabs at the top
      • click on "Word List" in the left panel
      • at the bottom under "Word List Range" choose "Use a stoplist below", then "Add words from a file" (and choose the buckley-salton.txt file on your computer)
      • then press "Apply" at the bottom
  • 4. Optional: Experiment with the following two online text-analysis tools: Lexos and Voyant.
  • 5. Put your "souvenirs" on a page for your exercise in the Folder for Practicum 3(Name your page: "Your Name - Text Analysis Exercise".)



Practicum 4 Instructions - Topic Modeling (for class 5)


  1. Read through (and try if you wish) the lesson plan in Shawn Graham, Ian Milligan, Scott Weingart, "Topic Modeling By Hand" (from The Historian's Macroscope).
  2. Experiment with the downloadable Topic Modeling Tool. This tool is a GUI graphical-user-interface front-end for the underlying MALLET topic modeling tool. An ideal experiment is to topic model a small collection of multiple texts (e.g., several documents that you have extracted as plain text and put in a folder) or a "chunked" plain-text version of a long text (e.g., a novel with separate files for each chapter).  If you wish, you can use any of the ready-to-go text collections in the "Demo Corpora" section of the course's DH Toychest.
    1. GitHub repository site from which to download the Topic Modeling Tool
    2. Instructions for download and installation:
      1. For Macs:
        1. Download TopicModelingTool.dmg
        2. Open it by double-clicking
        3. Drag the app into your Applications folder -- or into any folder at all.
        4. Run the app by double-clicking.
      2. For Windows PCs:
        1. Download TopicModelingTool.zip
        2. Extract the files into any folder and open it.
        3. Double-click on the file called TopicModelingTool.exe to run it.
    3. Instructions for using the Topic Modeling tool: The Historian's Macroscope includes a tutorial for an earlier version.  Basically, you give the tool an "input directory" of plain text files to topic model; specify an "output directory," tinker with the options (including number of topics), and execute.  (To have the tool also preserve the original MALLET data files, go to "Optional settings" and check the box near the top for "Preserve raw MALLET output.")
              The results will be reported in the output directory both as an easy-to-use Web page (output_html > all_topics.html) and as .csv files that you can import into a spreadsheet.
              If you have asked the tool to "preserve raw MALLET output," then there will also be a folder containing the MALLET data files. The most interesting one is "topic-keys.txt," which is a text file in which each topic (identified by the first number on a line) is also given a weight (second number on a line) indicating its relative importance in the whole corpus you are analyzing. You can import the text file into a spreadsheet and sort on the weight column to produce a ranked list of topics.
  3. Optional: More ambitious: download, install, and experiment with the actual MALLET topic-modeling tool, which runs from the command line. (See The Programming Historian Tutorial "Getting Started with Topic Modeling and MALLET" for instructions on installing and running MALLET. See also this tutorial.)  Copies of MALLET are also installed on most of the workstations in South Hall 2509 (see software inventory for machines in SH 2509). 
  4. Create a souvenir" or two from your work and put it on a page for your exercise in the Folder for Practicum 4. (Name your page: "Your Name - Topic Modeling Exercise".) 



Practicum 5 Instructions - Social Network Analysis & Mapping (for class 6)

[Students need to do only one of the choices for practicum 5]


  • Option 1: Social Network Analysis using Gephi (download and install Gephi on your own machine or use the workstations in SH 2509)
    1. Work your way through the following tutorial: Adapted version of Par Martin Grandjean's Gephi Tutorial of 2013 (adapted by A. Liu for Gephi 0.9.1).
      1. Cheatsheets & other tutorials for Gephi:
        1. Gephi Cheatsheet [PDF] (by Clement Levallois)
        2. Gephi Basics [PDF]
        3. Other Gephi tutorials (see in DH Toychest)
    2. Try to understand the logic/format of the two .csv files used in Grandjean's Gephi tutorial (one that identifies the "nodes" and the other the "edges," or relations between nodes). Then choose a very limited work or works that would be of interest to humanities scholars (e.g., a chapter in a novel, a scene in a play or film, an hour of a Twitter timeline from a conference) and create your own nodes and edges .csv files (which can be created in a plain-text editor or exported from a spreadsheet or even work processor). Use your .csv files in Gephi to create a visualization.  (If you wish, you can create just a hypothetical set of nodes and edges "as if" you were analyzing something even though you don't have time to do that for real at present.)
    3. Optional: You may also be interested in downloading, unzipping, and opening or importing in Gephi some of the other Gephi datasets available from Wiki.Gephi.org in a variety of formats (.gexf and .gml)
    4. Create a "souvenir" or two from your work, and put it on a page for your your exercise in the Folder for Practicum 5. (Name your page: "Your Name - Social Network Analysis Exercise".)  


  • Option 2: Mapping using StoryMap JS. 
    1. Use the StoryMap JS online tool from the Northwestern U. Knight Lab, to tell a story (or make an argument about) a life, literary work, historical event, contemporary event, cultural movement, or social phenomenon (or even an abstract/theoretical concept). StoryMap creates flow maps (interactive maps that zoom from location to location with associated images/text called up at with each point: see examples). Your goal is to demonstrate how mapping can add value or a different perspective to the telling of a story--e.g., a biography or autobiography, a short story or novel, a film or TV episode, the story of a band or musician, etc. Your map-story need only contain a few points with associated images and text--enough to mock up what you would do with more time. Try to do something interesting that allows us to think about how mapping interacts with or differs from textual narrative, what it adds and what it takes away, etc. (Note: the StoryMap JS tool is free, but it requires that you have a Google account because it uses Google Drive.)
      1. Tutorial on using StoryMap JS to make a story map.
    2. P.S. Other tools for mapping can be found in the DH Toychest > Tools > Mapping.  If you want to create an analytical map with overlays of information instead of a flow map, you might want to try WorldMap.
    3. Create a "souvenir" or two from your work, and put it on a page for your your exercise in the Folder for Practicum 5. (Name your page: "Your Name - Social Network Analysis Exercise".)  



Practicum 6 Instructions - E-lit (for class 8)

Go to Class 8 on Schedule

  1. Take a look at the Electronic Literature Collection Vol.3, focusing on two specific genres of works: Twine narratives and Bots. Think about not only the tool itself, but also the reason why authors use Twine or Bots (Twitter or otherwise) to create a given work. What is it about the tool that allows them to convey a concept effectively or tell a particular kind of story?
  2. Choose one of two tools to work with for this practicum: the Twine software designed for creating hypertext and interactive narrative (which you can either download to work with or use online) or Zach Whalen's Twitter bot generator (GitHub repo here; legacy instructions here). Play with your chosen tool for a bit, with the ultimate goal being to start crafting your own piece of electronic literature. While I am not expecting you to create a finished work for this practicum, I am looking for the beginnings of a piece that is built to evoke some concept or the beginnings of some narrative. Therefore, you should have done enough work on the Twine fiction or the Twitter bot that a reader of your work can derive a clear sense of what it is meant to evoke or the story it is telling.
  3. Create a "souvenir" or two from your work, and put it on a page for your your exercise in the Folder for Practicum 6. (Name your page: "Your Name - E-lit  Analysis Exercise".) 




































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