Digital Humanities

We will be using various digital tools throughout the semester, and all of your work will be submitted electronically. If you do not have regular access to a computer, you will need to plan in advance to work at the library. All of the digital tools we will use are open-source, meaning they are free to use. However, some will require you to install browser extensions or software on your computer. If this is an issue for you, please come talk to me as soon as possible.

Guidelines for various digital tools will be available on this blog. If you are interested in a digital tool that I don’t discuss, come talk to me about it. What tools you use for your own work are flexible; I encourage you to look around and see what’s available and interesting to you.

Online Privacy

While your work will be visible to me and to your fellow students, that does not mean that it needs to be identifiable to the general public. You are not required to put your real name on anything you publish online for this class. You are welcome to use an alias, as long as you inform me of your alias. You should consider this carefully; while this is an academic course, psychology and mental health are personal and you may wish to share personal experiences in your blogs. In this case, I advise you to use an alias.

Digital Humanities Methods & Tools

Text analysis is the use of computational methods to investigate a written work. This can involve using an algorithm to look at a single written work, to compare several works, or to look at patterns within a large number of works. Algorithms might be used to see what terms occur most frequently in a written document, which words within a document are most commonly connected, or where in the work specific words tend to appear. Programming languages like R and Python can be used for text analysis, but simple tools like the ones available at Voyant and Textalyser can be used too. These two tools allow you to analyze one or a few texts. Other tools (like Google Ngrams and Hathi Trust Research Center) allow you to analyze large databases of texts.

Visualizations: When writing a paper, most of the work is textual—you quote or describe sources with words, and you use your own words to tackle an issue. However, sometimes using images, video, sound or other sources can help drive an argument. There are several free and open-source presentation tools that can be used to incorporate these kinds of materials. Knight Labs has several tools that allow you to annotate data and images and embed media into text. TimeMapper and several other sites allow you to create multimedia timelines. You can create maps through Google Maps or the tools listed here.

Annotation & Curation:, Zotero, WordPress, Omeka & Neatline, Wiki editing. is an online annotation tool. It allows you to take notes and highlight text on any webpage. You can also take collaborative notes via our class group. These notes will be visible to me and to your classmates. This makes it easy for you to see what your classmates found interesting or confusing about a reading, and respond to their annotations. You can tag your notes, making it easier to sort through them. You can access your notes both on a computer and on your phones. Instructions for getting started with are available here; you can join our class group via this link.

Games/Interactive Fiction: Sometimes games can be used to tell a story or make an argument. Two examples of this are Inpatient and Depression Question, which put the player in the shoes of someone suffering from mental health issues. These two games are meant to build empathy and understanding for what mentally ill people go through. You could create a game like this, but you could also create a game to show what kinds of options were available to people historically and to draw out differences in how we think about mental health versus how people thought about it historically. Twine is a relatively simple way to build interactive fiction games. There are many other open-source game engines, some of which are suitable for beginners but most of which require programming skills.

For more information, visit these websites:

Extra-Credit Blogs

You may choose to submit up to 4 blogs on topics related to the course for extra credit. These blogs could trace themes throughout multiple units, discuss psychological research you’re reading for other classes and how it relates to the historical topics we talk about, look at how one of our topics is represented in popular culture, etc. I will also periodically suggest additional readings related to our course topics; you may read these and write them up for extra credit.

I encourage you to think creatively and be thoughtful here. Each additional blog will add up to 10 points to one of your unit papers (but if you want full credit, submit something thoughtful.)

Final Projects

Your final project will involve research on a topic of your choosing, as long as the topic is relevant to our course. I encourage you to think about what interests you and what you want to get out of this course, to be creative, and to come talk to me about any ideas you have. The project involves several components: a proposal, peer review throughout the semester, and a final project consisting of a digital component and a blog explaining your project.

The blog on your final project should help viewers understand your digital project, talk about how you went about researching and creating the project, why you choose whichever digital tools you used, and so on. Think of this as a section where you talk about the methodology of your project and talk on a meta level about knowledge production. What does your project teach a viewer? Is what a viewer learns different from what you learned in putting the project together? What kind of audience would be interested in the project and how did that shape your choices? Think of this as a discussion of knowledge production and dissemination.

You may choose to integrate the digital component into your blog (or vice versa, if you use a digital tool that allows you to include text), and which piece is more in-depth depends on how you choose to put your project together. You can think of this project as primarily digital (i.e., creating a digital project and explaining that project via blog) or as primarily written (i.e., using digital tools to visualize pieces of your research, but relying more heavily on text than visualizations.) In either case, you should think and write about what choices you made in creating your project.

You may also consider collaborating with another student, but be careful here: collaborative projects need to involve all collaborators doing substantive and separate work in addition to whatever you do together. If you have an idea for a project that’s simply too big for one person or you and another student have skillsets that compliment each other, collaboration may be a good idea. Otherwise, individual projects are preferable.

This project must be substantive to receive full credit. Other sections of HIST 4325 require students to write a research paper; treat your final project as its equivalent, in terms of effort and thoughtfulness.

The grade breakdown for the final project is:

  • Project Proposal (5%)
  • DH Component (12.5%)
  • Blog Component (12.5%)

We will come up with a rubric as a class, and will look at various digital projects throughout the semester to help you think about what you want to do.

For now, think about what interests you, what kinds of research you can reasonably do in one semester, and how you might visually represent that research. In the past, I have had students use polling software to poll students and write up the results, create multimedia timelines, use Voyant to perform text analysis, and use visualizations like word clouds and Google Ngrams to illustrate arguments within papers. These are just a few ideas; how you think about this project is largely up to you.  

Some things to consider when brainstorming…

Consider what kind of audience you’re presenting your project to. In most classes, the audience of a research paper is the professor. In this class, I encourage you to think outside the box. This might mean you want to create an academic resource for psychology students; if so, you could decide to create an annotated bibliography using tools like Zotero and It might mean you want to present historical ideas to a popular audience; if so, you might decide to write an in-depth blog with multimedia embedded into it to make it more appealing to casual readers.

Consider what non-text information exists on topics that interest you. If you are interested in asylums and deinstitutionalization, you might create a map or timeline to visualize the rise and fall of inpatient mental healthcare. If you are interested in something that involves empirical data, you might use Storyline.js to create and annotate that data. One example of this might be tracing the number of studies published on a few diagnoses throughout the 20th century and describing why each diagnosis became more or less popular over time.

Consider what you want to get out of this project. What kind of research would be most useful to you? Most of you are undoubtedly not history majors, and your interest in this class probably leans more to the psychology side than the historical one. In that case, what contemporary issues can be illuminated by historical research? Alongside this, think about what kind of work you intend to do throughout your time at TSU and after. If you intend to go a research-heavy field, you might use this project to become familiar with the process of doing research. That might include locating and collating studies on a particular topic, or it might include looking at the IRB process and blogging about how and why TSU’s IRB process was developed. Conversely, if you intend to work with patients, perhaps research on the history of ethics and issues in counselor-patient interactions would be more useful to you.

Consider what you can get done in a semester. You should aim for having a finished project at the end of the semester. However, it’s possible you will bite off more than you can chew, especially if you use more time-intensive digital tools or try to learn new tools you haven’t encountered before. That’s okay. Part of what the blog component of the project should talk about is how you came up with something feasible within a semester, what limitations that placed on your project and (if relevant) how and why your project fell short of what you expected. We’ll talk about feasibility as we approach the due date for your proposals and I’ll also comment on this when I grade them. You should think about this as you’re brainstorming and aim for something ambitious but achievable, but keep in mind as you’re working that sometimes failure can be instructive and that you can frame roadblocks you run into as learning experiences with their own value.

Project Proposal

A brief project proposal is due on October 8. You should lay out what your topic, how you intend to approach it, what you expect to find, what digital tools you are thinking about using and why you think those tools will be effective.

Peer Review

Throughout the semester, you will talk and share your work with your fellow students. Use peer review sessions as a space to bounce ideas off one another and to make sure that your research makes sense to others.

Final Project

As said above, this is a very flexible project. How you go about the project will depend on what interests you and what kind of work you want to do.

We will come up with a rubric as a class, but the basic requirements for the project are:

  • A digital component and a written component; these must make sense together. Merely writing a blog and throwing in a visualization that is tangential to the blog is not sufficient.
  • In-depth research; this project should be treated as the equivalent of an upper division research paper. What constitutes research is flexible, but you should treat this project seriously and create something that reflects a real effort to understand and present whatever topic you choose.
  • An explanation of the choices you made (why you chose a particular kind of visualization, what research went into the project as a whole, what you intend for viewers to take away from the project, any issues you ran into, etc.)

Film Blogs

We will watch 3 films this semester and you will be expected to write blogs on each of them. Films are to be viewed outside of class. I will screen each film on campus at a time that works for as many of you as possible. If you cannot attend, copies of each film will be available online or by borrowing a copy from me.

We will discuss the films and your blogs in class. Blogs are due before class begins:

  • August 28: The Snake Pit (1948): In this psychological drama, Virginia Cunningham is confused upon finding herself in a mental hospital, with no memory of her arrival at the institution. Tormented by delusions and unable to even recognize her husband, Robert, she is treated by Dr. Mark Kik, who is determined to get to the root of her mental illness. As her treatment progresses, flashbacks depict events in Virginia’s life that may have contributed to her instability.
  • September 11: Secrets of a Soul (1926): Middle-aged chemistry professor Martin suffers a traumatic psychological break when a murder occurs next door while he is trimming his young wife’s hair. Soon after, Martin is possessed by images of murdering his wife with sharp objects. When he is then beset by fearful, inexplicable nightmares and paranoia, he consults renowned psychiatrist Dr. Orth. After pouring over details of Martin’s dreams, Orth struggles to get to the root of his patient’s disturbance.
  • November 4: Titicut Follies (1967): Filmmaker Frederick Wiseman exposes conditions at a Massachusetts hospital for the criminally insane.

You might also wish to watch additional films, either to write extra-credit blogs on or to focus on in your final project. At the end of this page, you will find a list of films.

Your Film Blogs

You can write your blogs in one of three ways.

1. You can focus on one specific element of the film that interests you. For instance, you might want to write about what kinds of treatments are used in a film and how those treatments are represented.

2. You can write a more general overview of the film. If you choose this option, you should include the following elements:

  • The major themes or purpose of the film, as you perceive it
  • The historical context of the film
  • A discussion of how the film uses or represents psychology (for instance, do you think it’s accurate for the time period? What does this film tell us about psychology? What does it tell us about how non-psychologists thought about psychology?)
  • An overall evaluation of the film (for instance, did it successfully sell you on its theme or point of view? Did it make good use of any of the filmmaking aspects we’re discussing?)

3. You may focus on a particular film technique. If this interests you, see the next section on film analysis. I encourage you to look over this section even if you don’t plan to use it for your blogs. It will be helpful to have a sense of what goes into filmmaking when thinking about our films.

I also encourage you to include screenshots from the films and to incorporate external research or DH tools into your blogs. These elements are not necessary, but will enrich your writing. If you do external research, make sure that you cite it properly. Bringing in things you learned elsewhere is encourages, but plagiarism is not.

Film Analysis

Film analysis is a complicated process. Most film critics watch a film multiple times in order to better analyze it. I’m obviously not going to ask you to do this. Instead, because we’re only watching these films once, you may want to focus on a single technique in each film. In addition to watching the film as you normally would (i.e., for the story itself), you would also pay attention to how a particular technique is used in the film and what the filmmaker is trying to communicate with that technique.

Below is a list of 12 techniques (there are many others!) and questions to help you understand the technique. They are divided into a few categories: technical, mise-en-scene (“placing on stage,” or the stuff that’s actually there in front of the camera), structure, and form and content. Filmmakers put things from each of these categories together to tell a cohesive story. Sometimes that story is obvious–for instance, knowing the genre can tell you what a director is trying to do–but others are not. Looking at both obvious and non-obvious factors and how they interact with one another can help you gain a deeper understanding of a film.


  • Shooting angles, camera placement and motion
    • Where is the camera placed in relation to the subject of the shot? Is it far away from or close to a person or object? Is a character shot from above, below or dead-on?
    • How does the camera frame any given character? Do we see their faces, their whole bodies, or just parts of their bodies?
    • Does the camera remain stationary or does it move?
  • Takes
    • How quickly does the camera switch to a new angle? Does the speed correspond to the storytelling or mood?
  • Depth of field and focus
    • Which parts of the shot (foreground, midground and background) are in focus? Shots where objects that are close to the camera are in focus but objects that are farther away are fuzzy have a shallow depth of field. Shots where both the foreground and background are in focus have a deep depth of of field.
    • How is focus versus fuzziness used to emphasize particular parts of the shot?


  • Costumes
    • Are they (or do they seem) historically accurate?
    • What do they say about the character’s social standing?
      What do they say about the character’s individual personality or role in the story?
  • Sets
    • Do they seem historically accurate or are they more figurative?
    • What do they communicate about the setting of the story?
  • Acting
    • Is the acting naturalistic? Over-the-top? What might that say about the choices of the director or the era in which the movie was made?
    • Do individual acting choices affect how you react to each character?


  • Time
    • Is time linear in the film? Do events we see occur simultaneously in the universe of the film?
    • How does the filmmaker mark the passage of time within the story?
  • Lighting & Color
    • Does the lighting reflect or enhance the mood of the storytelling?
    • Do the lights reflect the setting? E.g., are interior shots inexplicably bright or do they have a realistic amount of lighting?
    • How is color used in the film?
    • Pay attention to how colors change with the mood of the film, or how individual characters are color-coded (through dress, setting, lighting and so on).
    • If the film is in black and white, does it have high contrast shots? Does it use bright whites or dark blacks to draw attention to particular things or evoke particular feelings?
  • Music and sound
    • Does the film use music to enhance the mood?
    • Is the sound diagetic or non-diagetic? Diagetic means something that occurs within the film’s universe. An example of diagetic sound might be music being played by a character on their record player. Nondiagetic sound is a soundtrack that plays without any indication the characters can hear it or know it exists.

Form and Content

  • Genre
    • What genre is the film? Does it stay in that genre or defy it?
  • The Look
    • Who in the film itself controls the gaze? Do we look where characters are looking, or do we only look at them?
    • Pay special attention to gender here: do we look at female characters more than male characters? Whose gaze do we follow more?
    • How do we look at characters? Do we see close-ups of faces, or full-body shots, or individual body parts? What does this say about the characters in question and about the film itself?
  • Identification and distancing
    • Who does the film ask us to empathize with? How does it do this? Through the plot? Through visual devices?

Some of these techniques will be more relevant to one film than another. For instance, music and sound would be largely irrelevant in a silent film (though you could talk about how silent films work around this limitation.) One film might use a lot of interesting lighting techniques, while another might not.

You can read more about film analysis here (this tutorial covers basic terminology, including many of the terms above, using screenshots and film clips), or watch the following videos on YouTube:

You may also want to look on YouTube to see whether anyone has uploaded an analysis of a film you’ve already seen. These kinds of walkthroughs are easier to follow if you’ve seen the film they’re talking about.

Additional Films

Hundreds of films have been made about psychology. Some of the films I considered screening for this class include:

  • Home of the Brave (1949): Paralyzed African-American veteran Peter Moss is undergoing psychoanalysis after suffering a nervous breakdown. As Moss recounts his trauma to an army psychiatrist, he reveals countless examples of the everyday racism he experienced as a civilian. Moss also discusses an intense mission he went on during World War II. Although he is psychically damaged, his doctor believes Moss can walk again if he can figure out a way to let go of his emotional wounds.
  • Psycho (1960): Phoenix secretary Marion Crane, on the lam after stealing $40,000 from her employer in order to run away with her boyfriend, is overcome by exhaustion during a heavy rainstorm. Traveling on the back roads to avoid the police, she stops for the night at the ramshackle Bates Motel and meets the polite but highly strung proprietor Norman Bates, a young man with an interest in taxidermy and a difficult relationship with his mother.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975): When Randle Patrick McMurphy gets transferred for evaluation from a prison farm to a mental institution, he assumes it will be a less restrictive environment. But the martinet Nurse Ratched runs the psychiatric ward with an iron fist, keeping her patients cowed through abuse, medication and sessions of electroconvulsive therapy. The battle of wills between the rebellious McMurphy and the inflexible Ratched soon affects all the ward’s patients.
  • The Fisher King (1991): After shock jock Jack Lucas inadvertently provokes a caller into murdering a group of innocent people in a Manhattan bar, he grows depressed and turns to booze. As he’s about to hit rock bottom, Lucas meets a homeless man named Parry, whose wife was killed by the caller Lucas pushed to the brink. Mentally scarred by his loss, Parry spends his days searching for the Holy Grail. Lucas, feeling culpable for the poor man’s plight, pledges to help him in his quest.
  • Side Effects (2013): For four years, Emily Taylor has awaited the release of her husband, Martin, from being imprisoned for insider trading. Finally, Martin comes home, but Emily feels just as bad as she did when he was incarcerated, and she sinks into a deep depression. After her failed suicide attempt, psychiatrist Jonathan Banks prescribes a series of medications. When those don’t work, he gives Emily a new medication — but the drug leads to ruined lives and death.

Film lists:

Using WordPress

Creating an Account

You will receive an email invite through your TSU email address. Click the link in the email to be taken to a sign-up page. There, you will create a username and password for your account.

You may use your first name or some alternate username if you do not want your real name to appear on your blogs.

Setting Up Your Profile

At the top right of any WordPress site, you should see a small gray and white circle. Clicking this will take you to your profile. From here, you can change your public display name (what will show when you write comments or posts), add a user picture and bio, and change several settings. You do not need to create a profile for our class, but it’s available if you want to.

The “Notification Settings” tab on your profile page will also allow you to customize which notifications you receive. These show up by the bell icon at the top right menu on WordPress. By default, you will receive notifications for any changes on this blog both on WordPress and sent to your email.

Writing Posts

At the very top right of the homepage, you should see a button that says “Write.” Clicking this will open a blank blog page.

On the left side of the screen is space for you to write your blog. On the right are options for posting.

When writing your blog, you may choose to write straight into WordPress or you may choose to write using a program like Word and then copy and paste the text into WordPress. I would advise that you keep a Word copy of all your blogs in case you accidentally delete something from the website.

WordPress uses “blocks” rather than paragraphs. Every time you hit “enter,” you create a new block. Each block has to be formatted separately. Once you’ve typed some text into a block, you can hover over the block to see formatting option (font, indentation, adding hyperlinks, etc.) The far right button on the formatting menu allows you to delete blocks.

You can add different kinds of blocks by hovering around the middle of your screen and clicking the blue plus symbol. The default block is a simple text box. Using the plus symbol, you can add images, files, audio, block quotes, separators to distinguish between different sections, etc.

Before you post your blog, make sure it is tagged appropriately. To do this, make sure you have selected “Document” on the menu at the right side of the screen. Click “tags” and then enter your tags into the text box.

All blogs should be tagged with “Blogs” so that they are displayed under the menu in the top bar. You should also tag your blogs with the unit or film they are for, and with “extra-credit” if applicable.

You may use additional tags to describe the content of your blog, if you wish.

Once you’ve written, formatted and tagged your blog, click the blue “Publish” button at the top right of the screen. You may also click “Preview” (next to the “Publish” button) to make sure the blog looks the way you want it to.

Leaving Comments

As other students write posts, read and comment on them. To do this, click on the title of the post and scroll to the bottom of the page. There, you will see “Leave a Reply” and a text box underneath.

You may also respond to other comments on the post.

Deleting Content

If you need to delete something for some reason, click “My Site” at the top left of any WordPress page. This will bring up a menu (also on the left side of the page) where you can access posts, media and comments you have posted. From here, you can delete these items.

Unit Blogs

This course contains 9 units. You are expected to write blogs (approximately 500-750 words) on 4 of these units. Blogs should discuss one or more themes from the unit, and should refer back to our readings. You may also choose to draw in outside research, such as readings from other courses you’ve taken or things you’ve read on your own. At least 2 of your unit blogs must come from the first half of the class, but you are otherwise free to choose which units you write on. Blogs are due the Tuesday after we have completed the unit. These blogs will be visible to your classmates and students are expected to comment on other students’ blogs throughout the semester.

Due Dates

  • September 5: Asylum blog
  • September 17: Theories of Mind blog
  • September 24: Brain & Nerves blog
  • October 1: Testing blog
  • October 10: Treatment blog; you must complete at least 2 unit blogs by this point
  • October 22: Psychology in/and/as Politics blog
  • November 5: Research & Ethics blog
  • November 14: Subjectivity & Bias blog
  • November 21: Anti-psychiatry blog

Wrapping Up & Drawing Conclusions

November 18: Anti-Psychiatry


November 20: Looking back over the semester

If you have a few minutes, look back over the readings, units, what we’ve talked about and think about what you found most interesting/helpful and the least interesting/helpful.


November 18: Sanity in an Insane World



  • Szasz and Laing are both part of the anti-psychiatry movement; are their arguments about psychiatry similar or different?
  • Are you persuaded by either or both of them? Why or why not?
  • What historical practices or circumstances were they responding to? Do those things still exist? In other words, did anti-psychiatry make sense in its time period and does it still make sense now?
  • What are Szasz and Laing trying to reform? If psychologists and psychiatrists are typically trying to reform the individual, are anti-psychiatrists doing something different?

November 20: Diagnosing Normal



Psychology in/and/as Politics

October 14: Fascism




  • Were Nazi leaders mentally ill? If not, were they mentally healthy? Is there a third category between the two, or illnesses that we can’t diagnose?
  • What about other kinds of bad people (school shooters, terrorists, serial killers, racists, etc.)?
  • What are the benefits or consequences of labeling bad behavior as an illness? In other words, what does calling a fascist ill do?
  • Is there a gap between psychological science and common sense understandings of illness and health? If so, why and can it be bridged?

October 16: Draeptomania, Dysaethesia aethiopica & Race as Pathology




  • Are the two readings similar? How so?
  • What sociopolitical factors explains similarities or differences?
  • How is psychological science used to shape the world/politics?
  • Link to asylum unit
  • Link to IQ testing
  • What can be done to avoid racism in psychology? What solutions won’t work, in your opinion?
  • If psychological diagnoses can be used to reaffirm racism, can they also be used to push back against racism? If so, what would this look like?

October 21: Radical therapies and Social Critiques