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Enroll in a new course for Spring 2020 -- VPA 5300: The Arts as (Big!) Data

In the analysis of artworks, scholars often eschew explicit statistical methods in favor of qualitative descriptions derived from empirical observation. But with the drive toward digitization now in full swing, statistical methods provide powerful analytic tools, enabling the testing of a priori hypotheses for corpora that often far exceed the capacities of one scholarly lifetime. Faced with a digitized corpus of Elizabethan comedies, the instrumental repertories of the Viennese masters, or the frescoes of the Italian Renaissance, how might computers help us to discover the stylistic features that distinguish Shakespeare from Marlowe, Mozart from Haydn, or Giotto from Raphael?

VPA 5300: The Arts as (Big!) Data examines the emerging role played by corpus-driven methods in the disciplines associated with the visual and performing arts. To that end, we will complete weekly readings drawn from interdisciplinary fields like systematic musicology, corpus linguistics, and the digital humanities. Assignments will include critical reading summaries and analyses of toy data sets pertaining to the visual and performing arts. No background in statistics or computer programming is required or expected. Finally, students will design and publish an online, annotated arts corpus catered to their backgrounds and interests.



David Sears


Visual and Perform Arts