LING055: First-year Seminar

Digital Science and Scholarship: Exploring Speech and Language

Today, research of all kinds is being extended, supplemented or replaced by computational analysis and modeling. This is happening in every field from archeology to zoology, in the humanities as well as in the natural and social sciences. And often, the phenomena of interest are viewed through the lens of language in digital form. This is directly true in literature, history, medicine, law, media studies, political science, sociology, and anthropology, among others. Related or analogous methods are used in studies of animal communication, in the analysis of musical scores or recordings, and so on.

In this seminar, we will learn about research at Penn and elsewhere based on a wide variety of digital language materials, including the texts of novels; poetry readings; student writing; political speeches; stand-up comedy; courtroom arguments; recordings of musical performances; musical scores; cuneiform tablets; clinical interviews and neurocognitive tests; legal contracts; twitter and facebook; language learning; and even birdsong. And we will explore the foundational skills and methods that support research across all of these apparently diverse domains. We'll learn that the techniques used to analyze clinical interviews can be the same as those used to analyze poetry readings; insight into political speeches may come from the same methods used to analyze novels.

Students with all backgrounds and interests are welcome. Priority in enrollment will be given to students in the Digital Humanities Program in Riepe College House, and the Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program in Ware College House.