Matthew Hiebert

Interested in DH but not sure where to start? Want to learn some basic skills but not sure how to get going? The Digital Humanities at Berkeley Summer Institute has a new course for you. Introduction to Digital Humanities lives up to its name: an accessible “sampler” of several DH methods and tools relevant across humanistic disciplines.

Taught by Matthew Hiebert (pictured) of the U.S.-based German Historical Institute (GHI), Introduction walks students through the background and hands-on use of markup languages, text analysis and encoding, data and metadata, visualization and mapping, and game-based modeling. If those sound like foreign languages to you, don’t worry.

With a half-day session dedicated to each topic, participants have plenty of time to get the big idea of each method and tool, and to develop initial competency in the fundamental aspects of work in the digital humanities.  Students should also take comfort in the course’s proven track record, as Hiebert himself told DH at Berkeley:

“While visiting as an Assistant Professor at the University of Victoria I was fortunate to teach its undergraduate digital humanities introductory course—Tools, Techniques, and Cultures of the Digital Humanities—for two years.  I based my syllabi on integrating earlier iterations of the course developed by Ray Siemens and Jentery Sayers, scholars who have contributed immeasurably to Victoria’s reputation as a leader in DH research and pedagogy. More recently I also co-developed, with Matt Huculak, a more advanced one-week graduate level Introduction to Digital Humanities that served as a prerequisite for students taking DHSI workshops for credit in Victoria’s Graduate Certificate in DH program.”

Introduction to Digital Humanities at the Berkeley Summer Institute is based on the same successful model and tailored for the Berkeley community.  The course will also integrate short presentations from two of Hiebert’s esteemed colleagues from the Max Weber Foundation and GHI Washington, Daniel Burckhardt and Kelly McCullough, providing participants practical examples of how the DH methods and tools they are learning are used in larger projects.

Like many prospective students, Hiebert himself was not always a digital humanist:

“I was completely oblivious to the emergence of DH as a field and its growing importance up until a conversation with my doctoral supervisor in early 2012.  I had shown how I was writing some code to help with the bibliography for my dissertation project, and he exclaimed that what I was doing fell within the realm of something called the digital humanities.  Later that year I would attend the Digital Humanities Summer Institute in Victoria and the European Summer University in Digital Humanities at Leipzig for the first time.  Both experiences were great fun and I learned a lot.  Those summer institutes are what formally got me started in DH.”
Hiebert thinks DHBSI students could similarly benefit from getting their DH feet wet with his introductory course:

“My sense is that many students, faculty and other members of the academic community might fear that DH would be technically overwhelming for them, might involve a radical transformation in how they already study or do research, or could make their intellectual activities more robotic somehow.

I have found in my research and teaching that DH can relate to our existing humanities-based practices, learnings, and critical frameworks in organic, reflexive, and enhancing ways.   And if one possesses the basic technical competencies to function in our already thoroughly computer-mediated academic environments—use of a word processor, querying an online finding aid, doing a web search, downloading a digital journal article, and such—that really is all that is needed to begin learning DH tools and techniques.”

For a formal description of Introduction to Digital Humanities and to enroll in the course, please visit: