PyCon 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio

Thursday 1 p.m.–1:30 p.m. in

Oh, the Humanities! Teaching and Learning Interdisciplinary Python

Lisa Tagliaferri


As there is more pressure put on educators to teach all students to code, humanities fields have responded by developing digital humanities programs that teach technical skills — including Python programming — within disciplines like history and literature. Through these initiatives, humanities students develop interdisciplinary thinking and are provided with the opportunity to innovate at the intersection of traditionally discrete fields. This approach, however, excludes computer science students from participating in broader dialogues and prevents them from learning more about historical and ethical contexts that they can in turn use to bring critical thinking and new eyes to their own Python projects. In this talk, I’ll share methods for bringing humanities-grounded thought to Python courses, workshops, and learning resources. Drawing from my experiences teaching computer science students within a digital humanities lab at MIT, and writing a Python book for industry developers, I will provide participants with actionable student-centered approaches that they can bring into the computer lab. Focusing first on the human-centered and collaborative aspects of Python programming, from the doctest module and documentation approaches to code review best practices, I will move on to how working with unusual data from humanities sources (like 19th-century literature and medieval manuscripts) can support the development of Python programmers. Finally, I will highlight some community projects and resources for instructors and students planning to pursue an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning Python.