Based on two summer institutes held at the University of California, Los Angeles  in 2014 and 2015, this online textbook and collection of resources is meant to provide introductory materials to digital approaches relevant to art history. Originally taught by Johanna Drucker (Bernard and Martin Breslauer Professor of Bibliography, Information Studies), Steven Nelson (Associate Professor of African and African American Art History), Todd Presner (Chair, Digital Humanities Program, and Professor of Germanic Languages and Comparative Literature), Miriam Posner (Digital Humanities Program Coordinator and Institute Director), the majority of readings and tutorials assume no prior knowledge or experience and are meant to introduce fundamental skills and critical issues in digital art history. Readers and users will learn about debates and key concepts in the digital humanities and can gained hands-on experience with tools and techniques for art historical research, including metadata basics, data visualization, network graphs, and digital mapping.

Major support for the program and online textbook was provided by the Getty Foundation.

The chapters resemble the major topics of the institute, and each section is presented as a lesson plan. These topics are:

  1. Introduction/ Overview to DH and DAH

  2. Scoping and Structuring Your Work: Data, Metadata, and Project Management

  3. Information Visualization

  4. Maps and Space

  5. 3D and Modeling

  6. Next Steps and Pedagogy

The ordering of the chapters becomes more in depth and complex as one progresses; however, each chapter is similarly structured for easy navigation. Every chapter contains the following subsections:

  • Readings: Selected to provide the reader with a solid groundwork for discussions surround the specific subject matter

  • Resources: There are many resources out there for digital humanities work. These are offered as our personal go-to sources to get you started.

  • Tutorials: Walk-throughs to learn specific tools and skills

  • Tools: Selection of tools that will allow for users to experiment and begin working

  • Projects: Examples of work that has been produced in the field with related digital tools

Concepts are discussed in the readings provided in the first section of each chapter in order to make connections between critical ideas, hands-on tutorials, resources for further learning and support, and relevant examples. These resources and tutorials are geared towards fostering the understanding of the concepts introduced in the readings: how to structure data for digital environments; utilize classifications and descriptive standards; learn to identify the components of and deconstruct digital projects; carefully consider the epistemological implications of data-driven analysis and spatio-temporal representations. Demos often only require text editors, commonly available (or free) software.

The Tutorials section focuses on specific tools that are used to do the work prescribed in the chapter. These tutorials are meant to serve as basic introductions with commentaries that relate their usage to the concepts often covered in the readings. The exhibits, text analysis, data visualization, maps & timelines, wireframing and html are all components of digital art history work and readers will become familiar with all of these digital approaches throughout the chapters.  However, the goal of this resource is not only the successful implementation of the tools, but also the recognition of their possibilities and limitations during the process. Readers will learn the skills for ruling out tools and tech for their projects, as much as they learn what might work best.

The Projects section represents one approach of incorporating all of the above for a more substantial and ‘packaged’ final project.

In compiling these ideas and resources from the summer institutes, we emphasize the flexibility of these concepts and methods for instruction for any course with varying levels of engagement with digital tools. We hope to also continue to add other approaches as they emerge. We invite suggestions and submissions from instructors and students, including syllabi, tutorials, and case studies through github.

These materials are authored. If you use them, please cite them as you would any other publication. They are freely available for use, but if you cut, paste, and incorporate them into your own lessons, be sure to include a link and citation of this resource. If you would like to change, correct, or add to anything in this coursebook, please do so through github.  You may enter an issue into github or make a pull of the site yourself. We would like to keep this current and useful.

Miriam Posner, Johanna Drucker, Todd Presner, Steven Nelson, and Francesca Albrezzi, 2016