What is Digital Humanities?

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Arts and Digital Humanities at UCC
Arts and Digital Humanities at UCC

Can we really define Digital Humanities?

Digital Humanities (DH) formerly known in its simplest form as Digital Computing (credited to Roberto Busa in 1949). DH grew out of an amalgamation of two organisations, namely the Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH) and the Association from Literary and Linguistic Computing (ALLC). The Alliance of Digital Humanities Organisations (ADHO) was born in 2005. The Modern Language Association (MLA) Convention in 2009 discussed Digital Humanities and one of their speakers William Pannapacker wrote the following online;

“Amid all the doom and gloom of the 2009 MLA, one field seems to be alive and well: the digital humanities. More than that: Among all the contending subfields, the digital humanities seem like the ‘next big thing’ in a long time.” (Kirschenbaum). The attendees used Twitter more than ever before to talk, ‘brainstorm’ and collaborate under the umbrella of digital humanities.

Digital Humanities (DH) has had many novel approaches in its definitional debates. Humanist Patrik Svensson writes essays periodically in Digital Humanities Quarterly. Svensson discusses the emerging field of Digital Humanities by examining the broad swing from Humanities Computing to Digital Humanities in his first essay (Svensson, 2009; Chap. 7). He explores the broader discipline of Digital Humanities in his second essay (Svensson, 2010). Svensson discusses the cyberinfrastructure for the humanities in general and for the Digital Humanities in the third one (Svensson, 2011). In the fourth essay, Svensson presents ‘a tentative visionary space for the future of the Digital Humanities’ (Svensson, 2012). He talks about the transition from Humanities Computing to Digital Humanities “is not just a repackaging but a broadening of scope” and that DH is a “collective name for activities and structures in between the humanities and information technology” (Svensson, 2009, p. 42). This may be true then but DH has evolved exponentially.

Lauren  Klein and Matthew Gold introduction in Debates in Digital Humanities sums up the advancement of the definition of DH “Along with the digital archives, quantitative analyses, and tool-building projects that once characterized the field, DH now encompasses a wide range of methods and practices: visualizations of large image sets, 3D modelling of historical artefacts “born digital” dissertations, hashtag activism and the analysis of thereof, alternate reality games, mobile maker spaces, and more. In what has been called “big tent” DH, it can at times be difficult to determine with any specificity what, precisely, digital humanities work entails" (Gold).

We cannot ignore that Digital Humanities is an ever-increasing and important discipline due to the importance of technology in our lives. Transdisciplinary collaboration is the backbone of digital humanities in my opinion in any discipline after that create a definition of your choice in your own field of study. My own definition will vary through my own creativity, advances in technology and collaboration with people and institutions.

Gold, Matthew K., and Lauren F. Klein, editors. Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016. University of Minnesota Press, 2016. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctt1cn6thb.

Kirschenbaum, Matthew. “What is ‘Digital Humanities,’ and why are they saying such terrible things about it?”. European Association of Digital Humanities, 2014. https://mkirschenbaum.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/dhterriblethingskirschenbaum.pdf

Svensson, P. (2009). ‘Humanities Computing as Digital Humanities’, Digital Humanities Quarterly, 3 (3) (Summer), http://digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/3/000065/000065.html,

Svensson, P. (2010). ‘The Landscape of Digital Humanities’, Digital Humanities Quarterly, 4 (1) (Summer), http://digitalhumanities.org/ dhq/vol/4/1/000080/000080.html.

Svensson, P. (2011). ‘From Optical Fiber To Conceptual Cyberinfrastructure’, Digital Humanities Quarterly, 5 (1) (Winter), http://digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/5/1/000090/000090.html.

Svensson, P. (2012). ‘Envisioning the Digital Humanities’, Digital Humanities Quarterly, 6 (1), http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/ vol/6/1/000112/000112.html

Gold, Matthew K., and Lauren F. Klein, editors. Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016. University of Minnesota Press, 2016.

www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctt1cn6thb.

Kirschenbaum, Matthew. “What is ‘Digital Humanities,’ and why are they saying such terrible things about it?”. European Association of Digital Humanities, 2014. https://mkirschenbaum.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/dhterriblethingskirschenbaum.pdf

Svensson, P. (2009). ‘Humanities Computing as Digital Humanities’, Digital Humanities Quarterly, 3 (3) (Summer), http://digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/3/000065/000065.html,

Svensson, P. (2010). ‘The Landscape of Digital Humanities’, Digital Humanities Quarterly, 4 (1) (Summer), http://digitalhumanities.org/ dhq/vol/4/1/000080/000080.html.

Svensson, P. (2011). ‘From Optical Fiber To Conceptual Cyberinfrastructure’, Digital Humanities Quarterly, 5 (1) (Winter), http://digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/5/1/000090/000090.html.

Svensson, P. (2012). ‘Envisioning the Digital Humanities’, Digital Humanities Quarterly, 6 (1), http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/ vol/6/1/000112/000112.html

 

 

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