This paper introduces three assignments—each with their own “starter kits” for students—for those with a love of the written (and digital) word. These assignments are part of a ‘Computing for Poets’ course that exposes students to leading markup languages (HTML, CSS, XML) and teaches computer programming as a vehicle to explore and “data mine” digitized texts. Recent advances in computer software, hypertext, and database methodologies have made it possible to ask novel questions about a poem, a story, a trilogy, or an entire corpus. Programming facilitates top-down thinking and practice with computational thinking skills such as problem decomposition, algorithmic thinking, and experimental design, topics that humanities students in our experience rarely see. Programming on and with digitized texts introduces students to rich new areas of scholarship including stylometry (i.e., the statistical analysis of variations in literary style between one writer or genre and another), applied to, for example, authorship attribution.
The three assignments highlighted are:
This paper discusses a novel way of making Interdisciplinary Connections in a CS1 course by exploring and “data mining” digitized texts. It also encourages Student-to-Student Interaction by pairing students to work on some assignments in class.