Dickinson Digital Latin Workshop July 12-15, 2023

What: Dickinson Digital Latin Workshop

When: July 12-15, 2023

Where: Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania (in person only)

Intended for: all Latin teachers and students over 18 year of age. Requires no prior experience with computer programming. Intermediate and advanced programmers will still benefit from rethinking coding fundamentals through either a philological or a pedagogical lens.

Registration and fees: to register, please email Mrs. Stephanie Dyson, Classical Studies Academic Department Coordinator (dysonst@dickinson.edu). A fee of $200 is due by June 15, 2023 in the form of a check made out to Dickinson College, mailed to Stephanie Dyson, Department of Classical Studies, Dickinson College, Carlisle PA 17013.  The fee includes lodging in campus housing (and please note that lodging will be in a student residence near the site of the sessions), two meals (breakfast and lunch) per day, as well as the opening dinner on the 12th.

Registered participants should plan to arrive in Carlisle, PA on July 12, in time to attend the first event of the seminar. This first event is an opening dinner and welcoming reception for all participants, which will begin at 6:00 p.m. The actual workshop sessions will begin early the next morning, on Thursday, July 13. The final event will be lunch on Saturday, July 15.

Content: 

  • teaches fundamentals of computational text analysis in the Python programming language using a corpus-driven, “exploratory” approach with activities focused on vocabulary and other formal textual features.
  • introduces participants to the basics of computer programming while also demonstrating how learning to code can help with everyday tasks in the Latin classroom. Learn to write just enough code to build vocabulary lists, count frequent (and infrequent!) words, search texts in flexible and “fuzzy” ways, generate reading drills and exercises, build up a collection of word games, and more.
  • helps participants develop computational skills useful for working with projects such as Dickinson College Commentaries and The Bridge.

Instructor

Patrick J. Burns, Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

headshot of man wearing glassesPatrick J. Burns is Associate Research Scholar for Digital Projects at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, working previously at the Quantitative Criticism Lab at the University of Texas at Austin and the Culture, Cognition, and Coevolution Lab at Harvard University. Patrick is working an online book to be titled Exploratory Philology: Learning About Ancient Languages Through Computer Programming, a code-first introduction to Ancient Greek and Latin as well as a core contributor to the Classical Language Toolkit, a natural language processing framework for working with ancient-language text. Patrick has given workshops on digital and computational Classics topics at many venues, including Stanford, Yale, Dartmouth, NYU, Tufts, UT-Austin, Universität Rostock, and the Institute of Classical Studies.

Description

What is the best way for Latin teachers and students to get started with computational approaches to working with texts? This three-day workshop introduces participants to the basics of computer programming while also demonstrating how learning to code can help with everyday tasks in the Latin classroom. Learn to write just enough code to build vocabulary lists, count frequent (and infrequent!) words, search texts in flexible and “fuzzy” ways, generate reading drills and exercises, build up a collection of word games, and more.

The workshop builds on the forthcoming book Exploratory Philology: Learning About Ancient Languages Through Computer Programming, a collection of text-analysis experiments designed to introduce coding to anyone interested in the Latin language and its literature. Building on Nick Montfort’s exploratory paradigm of learning how to “think with computation” as well as Marina Umaschi Bers’ pedagogical work on “coding as a playground,” Exploratory Philology offers a code-first, immersive and improvisational way of working with ancient-language text such that mutually reinforces the reader’s language skills and programming skills. While drawing extensively on material from Exploratory Philology, this workshop reframes the experiments from the book to address the specific pedagogical interests of Latin teachers and students, including by helping participants develop computational skills useful for working with projects such as Dickinson College Commentaries and The Bridge.

Agenda/Activities

  • Day 1 (4 hours)
    • Workshop overview / introductions
    • Counting words, aka “exploratory philology” in medias res
    • What is “Exploratory Philology”?
    • Introduction to Classical Language Toolkit and CLTK Readers
    • Breaking texts into smaller units (paragraphs, sentences, words, characters, and more)
    • Making lists, making tables, making plots
  • Day 2 (4 hours)
    • The four Ds of Exploratory Philology w. coding activities
      • Describe: Counting specific terms, spec. animals, colors, and more in Virgil
      • Discover: Searching for alliteration in Ovid
      • Deform: Autogenerating Latin sentence drills using Cicero
      • Divert: Making Latin word scramble puzzles using Catullus
    • Participant “Free Play” with the 4 Ds / Presentation Development
    • Tips and tricks for Latin text analysis using the Natural Language Toolkit
  • Day 3 (2 hours)
    • Participant presentations
    • Workshop conclusion/overview and participant feedback

Materials

The workshop uses several hands-on coding activities designed to help participants learn to read, write, and refactor computer programs for philological and pedagogical ends. All materials for the workshop are developed as Jupyter code notebooks and will be hosted in a public GitHub repository for participants’ reference after the workshop. Participants will also have the option of consulting the Exploratory Philology online book for further skill development.

Participants

The workshop has been designed for Latin teachers and students who can benefit from working with Latin text at scale and with greater automaticity and flexibility. No prior experience with computer programming necessary. All materials are provided as working code that participants are encouraged to revise and refactor for their own research and pedagogical applications. While the workshop is written in a way to be open to participants with no prior computer programming experience, intermediate and advanced programmers will still benefit from rethinking coding fundamentals through either a philological or a pedagogical lens.

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