[Humanist] 23.79 programming for poets?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Jun 16 06:03:50 CEST 2009

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 79.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2009 15:14:59 -0400
        From: "Mark LeBlanc" <mleblanc at wheatoncollege.edu>
        Subject: programming for poets
        In-Reply-To: <4A35E31C.6020705 at mccarty.org.uk>

dear colleagues:

help me ponder the need for teaching computer programming/scripting to 
students in the digital humanities;

i am assuming the audience(s) is upper-level, under-graduate and 
graduate students who would benefit from a strong does of 
computational problem solving and algorithmic thinking as applied to 
texts;  i am also assuming that a textbook project would be 
interdisciplinary, that is, *not* another programming book written 
with abstract pattern-matching problems but rather a book filled with 
the types of problems confronted by experimental groups that work in 
this space (cf. our previous work to teach biologists to program by 
focusing on examples relevant to their domain: ‘Perl for Exploring 
DNA’, Oxford, 2007);
perhaps co-authored by problem domain?

Questions (your wisdom greatly desired):

(1) Is there a market/need for a textbook that teaches programming 
using examples from   text analysis?  If so, what do you consider the 

(2) We currently teach an introductory programming course for the 
humanities called ‘Computing for Poets’; do you teach such a course? 
 If so, what language do you use? What text are you using?

(3) perhaps this should be done online rather than thru a traditional 

thanks for pondering,
Mark D. LeBlanc, Professor of Computer Science
Wheaton College (Norton, MA, USA)

Note:  I know of these existing textbooks:
     * Practical Text Mining with Perl (Bilisoly, Wiley)
            -- quite good, but this does not teach a novice *how* to program;
     * Programming for Linguists: Perl for Language Researchers
            (Hammond, Wiley) – more can be done here; needs interdisciplinary influence
     * Natural Language Processing with Python (O’Reilly, 2009);  i’m 
looking forward to this, however, O’Reilly books tend not to address the 
novice, especially the novice outside computing

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