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Teaching the Humanities with a Spreadsheet

image of google fusion tableGeorge Steiner once wrote the intellectual is the person who reads with a pen in hand. Today, however, we need to rephrase this idea and say: The intellectual is the person who reads with a spreadsheet in view. Felienne Hermans has argued for the relevance of spreadsheets for coders. I am interested in exploring the potential for teaching the humanities with spreadsheets. I will review one case-study carried out with students in my advanced Spanish Culture course. While studying the medieval pilgrimage route in northern Spain, the Camino de Santiago, we leveraged Google’s fusion tables to create interactive maps (kms files) for identifying the locations of cultural exchange. Using the same spreadsheets, we could develop network analysis visualizations on which the stages of the pilgrimage are nodes and the student’s engagement with this culture are edges. Join me to discuss this example and share your ideas on other use cases for teaching the humanities with a spreadsheet.