Latest Posts

What is a Field?

We take a shot at that question over at Scatterplot.

The Co-Assignment Galaxy represents titles based on the extent to which they appear together on syllabi.  Each title is a dot whose size is determined by the title’s total assignment count in the collection.  This simple principle structures a very detailed map of fields, subfields, and their boundaries.  It also combines what we could call content-based and institutional ways of thinking about fields.  By content based, I mean that the layout is derived solely from similarities in the assigned contents of millions of classes, with no a priori knowledge about how those classes divide into sociology or history or physics (we added the labels later).  At the same time, we developed tools that do sort syllabi into the classificatory schemas used by universities, which reflect a more administrative and institutional view of fields. This institutional account shows up in the graph through the use of color.  A title receives a color based on its predominant field of assignment. Field boundaries and border zones are represented in the Galaxy by this interaction between spatial layout and color.

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Architecture

Another hi-res, giant field poster you can buy at the OS Print Store. Bring joy to the actual, aspiring, or just nostalgic architect/urbanist in your life for the holidays. Click to explore.

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The OS Movie Lab

We’ve wanted to tease out movie rankings for a while. Movies are maybe the most passionately invested category of Open Syllabus citation data, surrounded by scholarly and popular debates and a teaching field that cuts across many fields. That makes them a rich target for a Lab.

GO TO THE MOVIE LAB

The OS Movie Lab (like the earlier Link Lab for journalism) is a navigable ranking of movies taught in college classes–in this case the 1201 movies assigned at least 20 times in the OS corpus since 2015. It sits outside the core OS toolset because we don’t have a reliable ‘Movie ID’ in our citation catalogs that would make them a searchable subcategory. Instead, these rankings are built from a hand-curated list derived from the larger OS dataset.

The rankings provide a snapshot of the thinking of hundreds of thousands of faculty about what movies to teach, drawn from millions of syllabi. Many of these decisions clearly belong to a Film Studies-centered discussion about how to teach the history of cinema. But the data comes from all fields and includes choices that reflect a wide array of teaching rationales.

Overall, the rankings present a very classical view of film canons and film studies — still oriented around the post-war American auteurs and the various European waves. Some of this reflects the national biases of the OS collection: around 55% of syllabi are from the US, 15% from the UK and another 10% split between Canada and Australia. The

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Sociology

We’ve been featuring the new Open Syllabus posters, which are available at the OS Print Store. Mapping the top 600 or so titles in sociology produced an interesting spatialization of subfields: a tangle of theoretical perspectives in the north, shading into French theory in the east; sexuality in yellow in the southeast; criminology and deviance in red; and a number of race and class-focused subject areas to the west. You can zoom in and explore yourself in this semi-hi-res version. It’s also interesting to compare against the much larger Co-Assignment Galaxy, which maps all fields together.

These are very large (36″x48″) posters available for $54.99

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