Critical Code Studies paper proposal

The emerging field of critical code studies offers tools for digital humanities scholars to study electronic works by looking at the source code of the work. Some practitioners of critical code studies explore the functionality of the code. Others read the source as a text, seeking insight into the work through extra-functional signifiers such as comments and the naming of functions or variables. I plan to explore both topics in my paper, and use both techniques if they offer insights into the work. ~

There is a tentative outline of my paper below. I plan to spend approximately a third of the paper researching previous literature on the field of critical code studies. It is a topic that I am interested in, but have little prior experience with. This paper will be the first work I do reading source code from a digital humanities perspective. Continuing from that section I will do a review of a code analysis. I have not selected one yet. I hope to learn specific techniques from this analysis which I can take into the final portion of the paper. My final large section will be my own analysis of a work’s source code. In this paper I hope to explore the potential of code studies as a method of criticism for digital works. In the end, I hope to contribute something new to the body of scholarship surrounding some electronic work by reading its source code.

Tentative Outline:

  • Introduction to critical code studies and software studies

    • Research previous attempts at critical code studies
    • Overview of important issues in the CCS scholarly community
  • In-depth analysis of a previous code study

    • Read and explore another scholar’s study of some code
  • Attempt my own code study of some work

Proposed Bibliography: