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Program Overview

Digital Studies

Digital Studies Certificate Program

Digital Studies is a diverse and growing interdisciplinary field in which humanistic inquiry is enhanced and redefined by the possibilities of digital tools for the researching, analysis, publishing, distribution, and consumption of scholarly work. Pursue research topics of personal interest in literature, history, and visual culture using a variety of digital resources and analytical methods in the context of the most current theoretical discussions about the digital in the humanities.

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Why Digital Studies?

The post-graduate certificate in Digital Studies may be especially beneficial to educators, students who are thinking of going into careers in public culture, or anyone who wants to combine interdisciplinary methods with specific subjects.

The coursework will:

  • Expose students to Northwestern University’s distinguished and world class instructors.
  • Provide students with countless opportunities to engage with others who are passionate to learn more about vitally important social and cultural issues through history, religion, philosophy, art, literature and film.
  • Prepare students for the intellectual demands of professional life by enriching students’ understanding of a broad array of social and cultural issues while improving their ability to analyze, write and complete research.
  • Sharpen analytical and writing abilities, which can help prepare students for application to PhD programs.
  • Applicants must possess a graduate degree in order to be considered for this program.

 

Course Options

To complete this certificate, students are required to take one core course, IPLS 420 Introduction to Digital Studies and three electives courses available in the topic area. Other elective options include the following:

  • An independent study, which is a customized course of study undertaken by a single student under the guidance of an instructor. Denoted by the course number, 499, independent studies are comparable in their demands to other graduate-level courses.
  • A capstone project, which is an essay of 45 to 75 double-spaced pages written under the supervision of an approved faculty member. The project presents an opportunity to research and explore a topic thoroughly. Students often elect to expand a seminar paper from a previous course. Students who wish to pursue a capstone project must do so as their fourth and final course in the certificate program.
  • Students who did not previously study the humanities at the graduate level are strongly encouraged to take IPLS 410: Introduction to Graduate Studies. This course introduces students to interdisciplinary cultural analysis through an intellectual history of critical theorists and thinkers. Through close reading, seminar discussion and presentations, students develop their critical analysis skills.

Please note that courses completed in the certificate program cannot be transferred to the corresponding graduate degree.

More about the Digital Studies program

Digital Studies Course Schedule

The Digital Studies Course Schedule page provides you with detailed information on the program's offerings.

Digital Studies Faculty

You can find a full listing of our instructors in this certificate program on the Digital Studies Faculty page.

Admission for the Digital Studies program

Applicants to this certificate program must hold a graduate degree from an accredited U.S. college, university or its foreign equivalent. A competitive graduate record that indicates strong academic ability is required. Work, internship, or research experience is highly desirable, but not a requirement. A list of admission requirements can be found on our Digital Studies Admission page.

Digital Studies Tuition

Tuition costs can vary for each of our programs. For the most up-to-date information on financial obligations, please visit our Digital Studies Tuition page.

Digital Studies Registration Information

Our Digital Studies Registration Information page outlines important dates and deadlines as well as the process for adding and dropping courses.


Find out more about Northwestern's Digital Studies program

Core Courses:Course Detail
GIFs, Selfies, Memes: New Networked Genres <> IPLS 401-0

The early twenty-first century has witnessed the rise of always-on computing, a distinctive digital media ecology defined by smartphones, social media, and the tacit assumption of life lived on the basis of ubiquitous wireless networks. This same moment has also witnessed an incredible explosion of new networked genres. These genres include animated GIFs, memes, selfies, supercuts, podcasts, vaporwave, ASMR videos, likes, comments, and much else. This seminar is devoted to studying these new forms collectively and individually as aesthetic symptoms of a rapidly changing historical present in the overdeveloped west. While not framed as an introduction to digital media studies or digital aesthetics, this seminar will be taught with the consideration that it will function most likely in this way for most students. Our approach will be to privilege artistic negotiations with new networked genres. Our guiding principle will be that artistic texts offer especially rich reflexive occasions for studying the overwhelmingly non-reflexive aesthetics of always-on computing. We will often pair theoretical texts and work in digital media studies that will grant us a working vocabulary for gaining traction on a number of feelings and ideas: from creepiness and A E S T H E T I C to ambivalence, lethargy, boredom, mindfulness, and touch, as well as things like big data, post-internet art, fake news and the decline of symbolic efficiency, and vulnerability. Authors to be read will likely include Berlant, Ngai, Butler, Richmond, Dean, Cohen, Frosh, and Hu among others. Artists will likely include Dennis Cooper, Allie Brosh, Mary Bond, Jennifer Proctor, Elisa Giardina Papa, Eric Fleischauer and Jason Lazarus, Frances Stark, Faith Holland, Miranda July, and others. (This course may count towards the American Studies, Digital Studies, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may count towards the Film, Literature and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


View IPLS 401-0 Sections
Introduction to Graduate Studies <> IPLS 410-DL

This course, required of all MALIT and MALS students (but open to any interested graduate student) offers an introduction to literary and critical theory, as well as key works of literature, poetry, and film. It considers the relation between art, culture, and society as it has been conceived, problematized and reconceived over time. Centering on the nexus of questions and problems that have converged around the concept of truth and its relation to fiction, the course asks: How do works of art and cultural productions form and challenge the foundational truths of the societies in which they emerge and intervene? Students will become familiar with various critical perspectives, considering approaches based on class, race, gender and sexuality. Drawn from philosophy, literature, and cultural studies, the readings will introduce students to key thinkers including Plato, Nietzsche, Freud, Beauvoir, Fanon, Deleuze, and Rancière. The course will also prepare students for graduate work in literary and cultural studies with a focus on academic genres of writing and research methods.


View IPLS 410-DL Sections
Courses:Course Detail
Introduction to Digital Studies <> IPLS 420-DL

How do we better understand the conjuncture of digital technologies and the humanities? What kinds of thinking, research, teaching, politics, and cultural analysis can the digital enhance? How, in turn, do the fields that constitute the humanities (history, literary and language studies, philosophy, art history, musicology, cultural anthropology, media studies, etc.) offer guidance and grounding in today's wireless world? This course introduces students to the emerging field of critical digital studies, which looks at the intersection of digital technology and the humanities. Through a blending of weekly online engagements and three, Saturday afternoon face-to-face seminars, we address topics such as: what is the history of both the humanities and digital approaches to it as an interdisciplinary project? How can we address humanities questions today through new tactics of computational study found in informatics, statistical analysis, data visualization, and "big data" approaches? What new modes of publishing and scholarly communication do digital technologies make possible (multimedia presentation, podcasts, video, visualization, etc.)? How do we understand the ethics and politics of the digital world (surveillance, open source, net neutrality, sustainability, power)? Each week, students conduct readings and viewings, explore case studies, and complete online experiments. We pursue vigorous online discussion and convene in person for a seminar three times over the course of the quarter. Students pursue a final digital project in consultation with the instructor and in relation to individual interests and pursuits (graduate work, professional interests, digital humanities methodologies). Weekly topics include: digital annotation and database construction for close reading; "distant reading" tactics; digital mapping and timeline building; data and archives; network analysis; glitching and deformance for hermeneutic interpretation; and platforms and social media for humanities inquiry.


There is no available section.
Queer Film and Retrospectatorship <> IPLS 492-0

Retrospectatorship is a way of negotiating the history of Hollywood through contemporary practices of spectatorship and the identities and cultural politics we now bring to our viewing of the past. Through a contemporary lens, we often view screen personalities, performances, dialogue, relationships, music, and even glances as “queer.” This course will negotiate American film and television from 1930-1990 in an attempt to “make sense” of a cultural product. We will theorize on meanings of queerness and how this concept colors our notion of gay and lesbian spectatorship. We will also theorize on whether LGBTQ+ and/or straight audiences of the past “read” queerness into a film/program that contemporary audiences might readily identify as such. We will examine the relationship of political culture to the timeframe in which films/programs were produced and the impact that this culture may have had on what was “allowed” and what was “read” into such forms of media. (This course may count towards the American Studies, History, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies and advanced graduate study certificate programs. This course may count towards the Film, Literature and Visual Culture, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature and advanced graduate study certificate programs. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program.)


View IPLS 492-0 Sections
Black Activism in Chicago <> IPLS 492-0

Black political activism in the city of Chicago has historically been a multi-varied phenomenon. Prominent and ordinary Black Chicagoans have responded to institutional or structural racism, specific racial incidents or problems impacting the African American community through organizational efforts and the power of the community. This course will explore ten historical incidents in which Black Chicagoans organized to make change. “Political activism” is loosely defined here and does not just mean running for public office. We will specifically look at Ida B. Wells’ fight against the horrors of lynching and her efforts to organize Black Chicago women, Robert Abbott’s creation and management of the Chicago Defender and his founding of Black Chicago legacy events such as the Bud Billiken parade, Carl Augustus Hansberry’s fight against restrictive covenants in the city and the impact that it had on his daughter Lorraine’s artistry, the organizational efforts of CORE (Congress of Racial Equity) and other entities to fight school segregation in the city in the early 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s work in Chicago in 1966 and the creation of the Chicago Freedom Movement, Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers’ work in Chicago in the late 1960s and the war against them by both the Daley Administration and the FBI, Harold Washington’s political career and his Mayorship in the 1980s, Black Chicago AIDS activism in the 1990s and current efforts to fight the disease, the careers of Toni Preckwinkle and Lori Lightfoot and the role of Black women in Chicago politics, and the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement and its achievements in the city of Chicago. Students will conduct an original research project this semester, using primary resources from the Vivian G. Harsh Collection at the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library, the collections at the main Chicago Public Library, the resources of the Chicago History Museum or the collections of the Gerber-Hart Library. (This course may count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, History or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies program. This course may count towards the American Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature program. It may also count as an elective in the creative writing program. Additionally, this course may count towards certain certificates of graduate studies.)


View IPLS 492-0 Sections
Black Chicago <> IPLS 492-DL

This course surveys the major aesthetic, political, economic, social, and cultural developments of the African American population in the city of Chicago from its founding by Jean Baptiste du Sable, an African American man, to the present day. This course will consider the role of black Chicagoans in the 19th century, through the Civil War, Gilded Age, Progressive Era, World War I, Chicago Race Riot of 1919, World War I and the Great Depression, the Civil Rights movement, the 1970s and 1980s up to the present day. Special emphasis will be placed upon the racial segregation of Chicago, the Black Panthers, and the relationship between the Black Chicago police and the Chicago Police Department. We will be also be exploring Black Chicago outside of the classroom. Analysis of primary source documentation of the African American press will be included in this course. (This course may count towards the American Studies, Chicago Studies, History or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies program. This course may count towards the American Literature, or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature program. It may also count as an elective in the creative writing program. Additionally, this course may count towards certain certificates of graduate studies.)


View IPLS 492-DL Sections
Conceptions of the Body in Renaissance Literature <> LIT 405-0

This blended online/face-to-face course will survey a range of ideas, attitudes, and ideologies about the human body as represented in literary texts of the western European Renaissance, with a concentration on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. Topics of particular attention will include the four humors, medical dissection, sex and gender, race, the grotesque body, the body in pain, the Eucharist, and the animal body. To learn about these diverse topics, we will read and analyze a wide variety of materials, including Renaissance poetry, plays, medical texts, and works of visual art; contemporary works of literary criticism; and contemporary literary theory. In addition to reading assignments, students will contribute to online discussion boards and submit videos, recording their responses to the readings in both written and oral form. The culmination of the course will take the form of a mini-conference at which students will present their final papers and entertain questions about their original research.

(This course may count towards the British Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master's in literature program. It may count towards the Digital Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in liberal studies program. It may also count as a literature course or elective in graduate writing programs. Additionally, it may count towards certificates of graduate studies. Please note, this course is a hybrid which will meet in person on April 6, May 11, and June 8).


There is no available section.
Topics: Proust LIT 480-DL

This course will be devoted to an intense engagement with one of the major figures in the history of literature, Marcel Proust, and to his In Search of Lost Time, which remains a crucial text in the development of modern thought. The focus will be on four volumes of the Search: Swann's Way, Within a Budding Grove, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Time Regained. We will explore Proust's reinvention of the novel as a form in relation to a number of Proustian problems and themes: his analyses of desire, perversion and sexuality; his reflections on the nature of time and memory; and his exploration of the relationship of art to life. We will also consider Proust's powers as a satirist and critic of ideology, who mercilessly dismantled the individual and collective illusions of his contemporaries. (This course may count towards the Comparative and World Literature or Interdisciplinary Studies specializations in the master of arts in literature program. This course may also count towards the Interdisciplinary Studies specialization in the master of arts in liberal studies program. It may also count as a literature course or elective in the creative writing program. Additionally, this course may count towards certificates of graduate studies.)

 


View LIT 480-DL Sections
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