A blog about the Master Programme in Digital Humanities at Uppsala University

Category: Okategoriserade (Page 2 of 4)

New year and new opportunities

Next week a new academic year for the Masters program in Digital Humanities starts. The first year students at the program start their first course Introduction to Digital Humanities. During the course they will be welcomed by Olle Sköld, who is coordinator for the program.

The first year students will take part in education in a online environment .Image by Bonnie Taylor from Pixabay

The programs first year will initially be held in a digital environment using digital tools, as a way to adapt to the current conditions during the ongoing covid-19-pandemic. This will mean new challenges for learning for both students and teachers, as we can really try to see the potential in a Zoom-based learning environment.

During the first course the 1st year students will learn the foundation of what Digital Humanities are. The course also introduces the digital tools used in humanistic research and the historical development of digital humanities. The contemporary position and characteristics of digital humanities will be studied through significant projects, research and research praxis in the field.

To learn more about the upcoming courses on the program, you can search through the posts on this blog or be on the lookout for new posts over the coming months.

Choices, internships and information science

For the second year students, many whom have been previously introduced on this blog, their third semester offers many opportunities to customize their program after their own interest. Some students have chosen their own elective courses during the spring. With subjects ranging from machine learning to linguistics to english literature, the students have the opportunity to choose their own direction within the masters program in Digital Humanities based on the courses found at Uppsala University.

Others have take a different route and instead chosen to deepen their knowledge in Library- and Information science through courses offered at the Department of ALM. These students will next week start the course Information Management and Information Structures. The purpose of that course is to study information systems and information structures with a point of departure in various theoretical perspectives.

Students will study how knowledge-intensive organisations manage various types of analogue and digital documents and how they manage their internal and external communication. The course will be headed by guest researcher Nadzeya Charapan and researcher Lisa Börjesson.

The students will attend an internship during some point during the third semester of the program. Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

During the third semester the second year students will also do an internship at a work place of their choosing. More information about this will hopefully be published on this blog in the future, when the students are able to share their experience. The ongoing covid-19 pandemic poses new challenges for work places, but we hope our students get a satisfying internship experience under safe conditions.

In-Depth: Information Mediation and User Perspectives in the Digital Era

Last week I got the opportunity to sit down with Ina-Maria Jansson over Zoom, Phd-student and course coordinator for the course Information Mediation and User Perspectives in the Digital Era, that ended a few weeks ago.

Ina-Maria before preparing a lecture during the course

What is your research background and how did you find Digital Humanities as an educational and research subject?

With a background in archival science and collection management I did find the actual step over to digital humanities less of a step and more of a gradual fade of shifting focus from analogue materials and collections to digital ones.  To be honest, I am not sure myself if I actually am a Digital Humanist; more like a humanist interested in the digital conditions of information.

How do you use digital tools or digital methods in your own research?

My main use of digital methods is to find different clever ways to collect and organize my source material. Some examples are different user generated content and metadata from online platforms, like digital photographs, user comments and online forum posts. I harvest material from digital platforms and have used Python to collect textual content. A future goal, besides finishing my thesis, is to level up my Python skills, but also to become more successful in implementing digital analysis methods.

What was for you the most successful or meaningful part of the course?

It is hard to single out a specific part. For me, the most valuable have been to follow the students’ progress throughout the course and learn how their understanding of digital information environments have developed, but also how they have learnt more about what Information Science is and why this field is interesting from a digital humanities perspective. I am still disappointed that the whole course had to take place online so that I never had the chance to meet the students in real life, but I also realize I am not the only university teacher with that feeling this weird spring semester.

From a seminar during the course Photo: Ina-Maria Jansson

What would you say is the core of the course?

I believe that knowledge of the impact of information infrastructures on information accessibility as well as creation, presentation, dissemination and use of information are necessary for a digital humanist. Therefore, I hope the students will take with them a developed understanding of the importance of studying information within the frames of information science. In other words, I want them to gain insight of how putting information in the center of studies can help reveal interesting truths about contemporary society and understand why it looks like it does and why things work as they do.

Read this blog post to learn about a seminar and presentation about critical evaluation of interactive digital platforms that the students had during the course.

In-depth: Digital Cultural Heritage

Last week the course Digital Cultural Heritage ended. I got the opportunity to ask a few questions to the course coordinator Nadzeya Charapan, about the course and her own academic background.

Nadzeya is a guest doctoral student from Vilnius University, Faculty of Communication

What is your research background and how did you find Digital Cultural Heritage as an educational and research subject?

My academic background is in communication and heritage studies. Right now, I’m completing my doctoral research about the nature of visitor-museum encounters and visitor experiences in open-air museums in Sweden, Lithuania, and Belarus. Given the emerging shift towards visitor empowerment in the cultural sector and urge for participation, digital technologies provide enormous affordances for the co-creation of meaningful experiences and enhancement of memory institutions as an important facilitator of social and economic value generation. Embracing digital technologies in cultural heritage enhances the revitalization of cultural heritage by bringing innovation to tradition, enlarging accessibility and fostering new meanings. Drawing on this perspective, the underpinning idea of the course was to introduce students to the fast-developing digital cultural heritage sector and inspire them for further professional development in the domain.

How do you use digital tools or digital methods in your own research? 

Considering my intrinsic research in visitor experience, in my recent research (7th Estonian Digital Humanities Conference (Estonia), link to the abstract), I address the issue of complementarity and the complexity of visitor experience, discussing the relationship between the physical and digital facets of the visitor experience of the cultural heritage site, discovered during the VR and AR entanglements.  

Since most of my previous research is based on participatory observations and qualitative methods, I broadly applied qualitative research methodologies, inviting netnography and online surveys. Hence, I’m familiar with metadata analysis and visualization tools (for example, Palladio, Google Fusion Tables), text mining methods (for example, Voyant), and Phyton.

Nadzeya also emphases that the focus of her course was not instrumental but rather conceptual. In the planning of the first of semester, a more practical focus was placed on the final course called Digital Implementations in Heritage.

A group presentation from some of the students at the end of the course

What would you say was the most successful or meaningful part of the course?

Inspired by the principles of experiential learning, the academic activities of the course combined study visits to museums and cultural heritage sites (Gamla Uppsala Museum, the National Museum, Digital Archive), where students had an opportunity to explore the sites, meet and partake in discussions with the experts from Nordic Countries (for example, Dr. Karin Glasemann from the National Museum (Sweden) and Merete Sanderhoff from the SMK (Denmark)), and also learn about the history and culture of Sweden.  This practice-oriented approach has facilitated further interest in the subject and highlighted the demand in the DH skills and competencies, and introduced potential career avenues.

What would you say is the core of the course?

The core of the course was to frame the understanding of the legal, social and ethical considerations of digital cultural heritage, related to participation, contextualization, open access policies, and intellectual property rights. Despite the ubiquitous role of digitization for humanities, the course introduced a critical perspective on the production, preservation, and dissemination of digital cultural heritage.

The second step of the first semester

The students of the DH-masterprogramme is now done with their first introductory course as they are settling in to the cosier Swedish autumn weather.

Today the second course on the program starts. It’s called Tools and Methods: Critical Encounters and is a practically oriented course coordinated by Matts Lindström. The course introduces and studies a selection of tools and methods used in the digital humanities.

Autumn is coming to Sweden

The course will be include both seminars and lab sessions, where the students will be able to develop a critical and historicising approach to new methods in the humanities.

During the coming weeks of this blog you will be able to get a sneak-peak at one of the Lab sessions and also hear Matts Linström himself speak about the course.

Karl Berglund: Reading From a Distance

Hi, I split my time between being a researcher in literature (currently in the project “From Close Reading to Distant Reading”) and a digital scholarship librarian, where I support researchers who want to deploy digital methods in their research.
My own research has from start been focused on large-scale patterns and systematic studies of (Swedish) literature. My thesis quantitatively mapped the boom in contemporary Swedish crime fiction in the 21st century, both concerning publishing patterns, marketing and literary content. After my dissertation I have moved towards computational approaches to literary analysis.
This makes me an odd bird in my own discipline, where most people are engaged in close readings and qualitative studies of different kinds. But with the rapidly growing digitised (and born-digital) literary text collections, the methodical monoculture is slowly starting to be challenged. The digital methods makes other kinds of patterns visible, new kinds of analysis possible, different kinds of research questions relevant to pose.
My course at the program is dedicated to exactly this: distant readings, to use the influential term coined by Franco Moretti. I will try to show you and critically discuss – both theoretically/conceptually and methodically/practically – how one can engage in computational literary analysis (and also: text mining within the humanities more broadly). The course depart from both readymade software and basic programming, and will cover topics such as pre-processing, concordances, collocations, and topic modeling. The ambition is to provide you with some quite hands-on skills and tools for further explorations in this vivid area of the humanities.
Karl Berglund
Researcher at the Department of Literature
Digital Scholarship Librarian at the University Library

All you need to know as a digital humanities student…almost

Today there was a workshop concerning the practical arrangement of teaching at the DH master programme. Most of the lecturers for the programme attended, and we shared a both informative and nice afternoon, discussing how to provide the best basis of education for both students and lecturers.

Although most of the information communicated during the workshop primarily is important for teachers, it can also be good to be updated on this as a student as it may help to ease your planning around you studies if you know how things like this work.

So, here goes some of the take-aways that I want to share with you:

  • A preliminary schedule is published prior to five weeks before the course starts. In that way, students can plan social life and activities around their studies, but be aware that changes can come through up till one week before the course starts. You find the schedule at the department web site http://www.abm.uu.se/education/student/schedule/
  • Can’t wait for the course literature? Relax, we have all been there… 😉  Literature lists for the courses will be published prior to five weeks before the course starts. This mean there will be plenty of time for students to find the right literature and also for the book stores to order the titles we put on the literature lists. Most courses of the programme is 7.5 credits, meaning around 1,000 – 1,500 pages for each course. To save your self time and effort, it might be worth purchasing books that are used through several courses (if the library does not offer it as an e-book).
  • For every course, there is a study guide (only a document I’m afraid, even though it actually may work as your own” study-guardian angel”) to inform students about the knowledge, skills and abilities that are expected of students after they have completed the course. Here you can usually also find information about mandatory parts of the course and examinations. The study guide is published on the learning platform Student Portal.

A more thorough introduction of everything one needs to know as a student at the Department of ALM will of course be presented during the first days of the programme. Until then, you can read up more about rights and working conditions for students on the web.


Call for papers for Tidskrift för ABM

The Department of ALM are now inviting contributions to the department journal Tidskrift för ABM (Journal for ALM). We are looking for scholarly articles as well as travelogues, shorter notations and reviews of works of relevance to ALM, information science or digital humanities.  Both English and Swedish are accepted languages. Publication date will be in December 2019.

The journal work is a good opportunity for students (both at the master and doctoral level) to become more experienced with the publication process and the editing committee offers support to those writers that need it during the whole editing process.

You can check out previous numbers of the journal and find more instructions at the journal website. If you have questions, send an email to my colleague Amalia who is the chief editor.

Thank you for your interest in the DH-programme!

The working group for the digital humanities master program just finished another meeting. For the first time, we could see the total amount of applications and we are happy to say that totally over 150 people (both from Sweden and from abroad) have applied!  For being the first time for this master programme, we are very flattered with the numbers and want to thank everyone of you for your interest in the programme. Except for being from different places geographically, applicants also seem to vary quite a bit regarding earlier academic background. We hope that this will give us a dynamic and interesting group of students to work with when the autumn semester of 2019 kicks off!

Except for this news, the working group also discussed course synergies and the possibilities to engage prominent persons in the digital humanities-field as guest lecturers, even though they might not work at Uppsala University at the moment. More info about the course content and teachers will come….

Have a nice weekend!


Studying at the Department of ALM. Part 2: Social life

This is the second part of an interview I did with John, one of our students at the Master Programme in ALM (Archives, Library and Museum Studies). The first part of the interview you can find here.

Besides talking about what the Department of ALM can offer, John and me also talked about life beyond studies. As a student it is important to have a good work-life balance, at the same time as there can be soooo much that one have/want to do and be engaged in. John explains that life of a master student can be summarized as great freedom with great responsibility. “There are maybe three to five scheduled lectures or seminars a week, although it differs depending on different courses in the programme. One has to use the time in a responsible way, setting your own time plan.” John seems to manage that without problems, and he tells me: “I use to sit in the campus library (Karin Boye-biblioteket), where I can feel like I’m in a bubble of my own. I know that there is going to be quiet and easy to focus. But I also like to try out different study environments. Sometimes I sit at campus, other times I go to the main library building, or read in a café.”

I ask him what he thinks about the student services that are offered by the university, such as the student gym Campus 1477, study assistance services or all the different courses, workshops and lectures outside academic studies. Taking a sip of water, John answers that he knows about them but have not tried out so much of this himself. “In exception for the courses in information seeking offered by the library. I have attended that course several times, actually, it’s very useful and you learn how to best use the library resources”

We talk some more about campus Engelska parken. This is the site for the Department of ALM and also where most of our teaching takes place. “Compared to other campus of Uppsala University, Engelska parken is more intriguing and interesting. I especially like Physicum, the building where the old Department of Physics used to be, but the university main hall as well. Both are old but beautiful buildings, on the outside as well as on the inside.” The buildings John refers to are built in the 17thand 19thcentury and I ask him how he believes those historic milieus contributes to his studies. “Well, I’m not sure that they effect my studies… But they make me feel…part of something greater, in a way. It feels…authentic. The long history of the university is materialized through those buildings and their surrounding.”

However, old architecture cannot make up for good friends (even if you are found of history) and I ask about social life and activities. John told me earlier that he is from Visby, but came to Uppsala when he was 19 and I wonder how he managed to adjust to a new city, far from family and old friends. He smiles when he explains that “…there is so much to do on the side of your studies while being a student! If you are new in the city, there is easy to meet new people that are in the same situation as yourself, and you can quickly find new friends and nice people to hang out with.” He continues; “I would really recommend to engage in one of the thirteen student nations (social clubs for students with their own estates, businesses, activities, scholarships, and housing opportunities). You can get working experience and learn new skills, beside your academic studies.”

Another thing that John recommends for new students is to join the student association that is connected to your programme of study. For example, at the department, we have Studierådet för ABM, which offers students a way to influence their education but also to arrange social activities like quiz nights. “When I was a student in history we had our own association which I was, and still am, very engaged in. We arranged a welcome party for new students and lots of other fun stuff. We also invited guest lecturers of our own choice, in co-operation with the department.”

Overall, I got the impression that John is content, both with his studies at the Department of ALM and with the university. Maybe a bit too content? I ask him if there is anything he is critical about or thinks should be changed. He gives it some thought, but no, nothing in particular, he says. I just nod, hoping it is an honest answer and that he is not only being polite. At the department, me and my colleagues all try to give our students the best opportunities possible, and hopefully we succeed, I think to myself.

“Be open to new perspectives! For me, the programme was not as I expected, as a matter of fact, it is better!

I finish the interview by asking John about his best advice for the new students of the Master Programme in Digital Humanities. “Be open to new perspectives! For me, the programme was not as I expected, as a matter of fact, it is better! One reason are the courses in programming and databases. Some people don’t appreciate them, they do not perceive it as something that they chose to study or see the relevance of it, but for me they gave new perspectives on information and museum studies.”

The power of coffee breaks

Going to a conference or meeting means a lot of things. Listening to presentations, learning new stuff, meeting people, seeing new places, smalltalk…. I can tick all of these things off from from my list of activities this week, thanks to the LAMC3-workshop in Copenhagen.

LAMC3 stands for Libraries, Archives, Museums: Changes, Challenges and Collaboration and is a network project that brings together Nordic research in the LAM-field. Except seminars and lectures, the participants got guided tours of key cultural institutions in Copenhagen. Both the Royal Library and The City Archive were natural places to visit but also newer and perhaps more experimental institutions invited us, like Enigma – Museum of Post, Tele and Communication.

However, one of the best take aways from the workshop-days is meeting new PhDs and researchers but also learning to know the ones I already knew even better. It is easy to underestimate the power of coffee breaks, but for the purpose of strengthening bonds to colleagues, they are invaluable. Chatting over a cup of coffee is not only nice and social fun, but also important to be able to do better collaborations in the academic community; writing papers together or co-arranging seminars or courses for students.

At the Department of ALM, we try to encourage our students to travel to conferences, workshops and meeting so that they also can get important academic- or work connections for their future career. Every semester a number of students get grants from the department for going away. We have sent students to UK, Estonia, Argentina, Finland, Germany…. Many of them have shared their experiences in the department journal, Tidskrift för ABM. For non-swedish speakers, I am sorry to say that most of the travelogues are in Swedish.

If you are going to study at the Department of ALM (or maybe do that already), I really recommend you to use the opportunity to get your research trip funded by the department. The application does not need to be all that complicated and the approvement rate is fairly high. 

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