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Card-index course

Digital humanities - origins, definitions, developments

Les humanités numériques - origines, définitions, développements

Responsible Faculty: Faculty of Arts

Teacher(s): Barbara Hof, Michael Piotrowski

Validity: 2017 ->

Course Timetable (Weekly)

Date Location Notice Topics Lecturer(s)
2023/2024 : Tuesday 14:15-16:00 (Weekly) Anthropole/3120     Barbara Hof


Spring semester
2 hours per week
28 hours per semester
Teaching language(s): English, French
Public: Yes
Credits: 3


The course is intended to lay the foundation for and complement other courses in the curriculum through reading and discussion of key texts and research literature. At the end of this course, students should:

  • have an overview of the field of digital humanities and its historical development;

  • be aware of the different orientations of this field;

  • have an understanding of its research methods;

  • have a good knowledge of the theoretical foundations of modeling;

  • be aware of the different research cultures and their forms of publication in the field of digital humanities;

  • be able to evaluate research results independently, including the interaction between research questions in the humanities and in informatics, as well as research methods and tools;

  • be able to evaluate modeling approaches from related disciplines with respect to their applicability to research questions in the humanities and social sciences;

  • be able to reflect on methodology in the field of digital humanities and to present their thoughts in an appropriate way and using different media.


The course examines the history of the field of research currently known as "digital humanities" and the various currents from which it draws its inspiration. An important question is whether it is a discipline in its own right and, if so, what is its object of research. Not only are different definitions competing here, but many actors reject any explicit definition. Understanding these discussions is essential to understanding the field and developing one's own perspective. In addition, we read recent work to get an overview of current research, as well as to relate it to the different visions of the "digital humanities." Therefore, the reading list includes both theoretical texts as well as reports on specific research projects that illustrate particular approaches or methods.


The course uses "pass/fail" grading. Credits are acquired through continuous validation.

Students are expected to actively participate in discussions, write and submit preliminary reflections and elaborate a final project in small groups; the final project can take different forms.


  • Granger, Gilles-Gaston. 2010 [1967]. Pensée formelle et sciences de l'homme. Paris: L'Harmattan. ISBN 978-2-35748-068-1.
  • Gardin, Jean-Claude. 1991. Le calcul et la raison: Essais sur la formalisation du discours savant. Paris: Éditions EHESS. ISBN 978-2-7132-0956-7.
D'autres textes seront mis à disposition sous forme électronique pendant le cours. Further texts will be made available in electronic form during the course.

Use contextFaculty codeStatusCredits
Master of Arts (MA), Computer Science for the Humanities (2022 ->) ›› - MA-ISH-30Optional3.00
Master of Arts (MA) in Digital Humanities (2016 ->) ›› Digital Culture, Societies and Humanities: Reinforcement Modules - MA-INTERFAC-CSHN-30Compulsory3.00
Master of arts, Reinforcement programme (2015 ->) ›› Humanités numériques - MA-RENF-HNOptional3.00
Unicentre - CH-1015 Lausanne - Suisse
Tél. +41 21 692 11 11
Canton de Vaud
Swiss University