November 12, 2021, was presentation day for the students who took Cultural Analytics in Fall 2021. This course, cross-listed in the Program in Quantitative Social Science and the Department of English, was taught by Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing Jed Dobson, who directs the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric at Dartmouth.
Illustrating how modern computation techniques are a part of liberal arts education, the students in Cultural Analytics learned computational techniques that can be used to study text as data. The course emphasizes the importance of the selection of data models, algorithms, and visualizations to the possible meaning of the modeled texts and covers classification algorithms, topic modeling, sentiment analysis, and neural language models. Students learn that at every step in a computational workflow there are choices to be made. Armed with theories and accounts of raw data, bias, classification systems, opacity, and more, students develop critiques of existing work and use these to inform their own projects.
The students in Cultural Analytics carried out research projects that they presented at a poster session in Berry Library. Their projects ranged from an analysis of the Afghanistan Papers to a study of song lyrics to the language of Dartmouth-specific social media applications.