Digital Humanities

𝔼ncompassing new technologies, research methods, and opportunities for collaborative scholarship and open-source peer review, as well as innovative ways of sharing knowledge and teaching, — Debates in the Digital Humanities

When I started researching Digital Humanities I came across two projects that were striking in juxtaposition: Debates in the Digital Humanities Open Access Edition (2013), and Hypertext: An Educational Experiment in English and Computer Science at Brown University (1976).

Hypertext is a 15-minute documentary exploring the then revolutionary use of a computer program to make poetry more accessible/engaging to students. Done by connecting works based on themes or author, added context, and supplementary materials. and allowing students to leave comments/questions for others to read and respond to next to the relevant passages. Debates, nearly 40 years later, uses a social reading platform that functions in echo of the FRESS software showcased in Hypertext—it allows users to highlight and comment on the text for anyone to see.

Fascinating because one of the latest works in Digital Humanities has come full circle to one of the first Digital Humanities projects.

𝔻igital Humanities represents a major expansion of the purview of the humanities, precisely because it brings the values, representational and interpretive practices, meaning-making strategies, complexities, and ambiguities of being human into every realm of experience and knowledge of the world. It is a global, trans-historical, and transmedia approach to knowledge and meaning-making. — Digital_Humanities

Digital Humanities is a very broad term. It can mean using digital resources to teach, communicate, etc. humanities topics—such as the University of Virginia’s Visual Eyes program, which allows educators to present primary sources, maps, video, etc., in an engaging and hands-on way. It can mean using computer science to create and extrapolate data—such as Stanford’s Mapping the Republic of Letters project, which traces the social network of letters from the Enlightenment to see how philosophical ideas and philosophers were actually interacting.

Digital Humanities are humanities in the twenty-first century, beyond the traditional text based mode of learning and scholarship. What exactly that means changes as new technologies rise and fall out of use, as new ways of using technology are imagined. Even Digital Humanities scholars argue about the definition.

𝔻igital Humanities refers to new modes of scholarship and institutional units for collaborative, transdisciplinary, and computationally engaged research, teaching, and publication. — Digital_Humanities

I think that Digital Humanities ties into Digital Citizenship in a few ways. Both are topics about how humans interact in the digital age. They explore issues such as ownership, collaboration, and means of interacting. Both Humanities and Citizenship are taught as core concepts for students.

I also think that Digital Humanities ties into a topic that has been only hinted at in this early stage of Digital Citizenship—is there even such a thing? Are Digital Humanities truly separate from Humanities? What does putting “Digital” in front of Humanities (or Citizenship) really do?

But don’t take my word for it…

Computers in English Class, Circa 1974
How an early digital humanities experiment helped college students grapple with modern poetry.

Hypertext: An Educational Experiment in English and Computer Science at Brown University
Andries van Dam’s 1976 documentary.

Debates in the Digital Humanities
A collection of essays that explores methods, theories, critiques, etc. of what Digital Humanities means.

Digitally Mapping the Republic of Letters
Arts Beat (NYTimes) article about the Electronic Enlightenment Correspondence Visualization project, including a video.

MIT’s “short” guide to the Digital Humanities, including evolution of humanities and emerging methods and genres.

Digital Keys for Unlocking the Humanities’ Riches
First article in the NY Times HUMANITIES 2.0 series.

Knowledge Machines
Podcast about the ways digital technologies have changed research practices.

¤The University of Oxford Digital Humanities Podcasts

¤Digital Humanities Quarterly

6 Comments on “Digital Humanities

  1. You provided some very interest resources of which I’ll try to back to. I had the same question as you about whether adding the word “digital” in front of humanities is just a way to modernize the discipline, to make it more appealing to a young audience, or is it really different. Due to technology and capabilities for storing big data, are our research methods in general changing therefore being able to reflect the discipline in technology-drive ways.

    • The tendency to add “digital” in front of phrases/words reminds me of the trend of adding “extreme” when I was in high school. The question of whether the “digital” does anything is one that will probably take much more pondering/research than I’ve had time for.

  2. I wonder if it’s almost like “digital” describes the tools used rather than the act itself. In other words, “digital citizenship” is just citizenship that’s using digital tools to accomplish its purposes, and “digital humanities” is just humanities research that uses digital tools. Just another way to think about, I suppose!

    • It is a neat resource. The visual notes in particular were interesting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *