RELI/ENGL 39, Fall 2015, University of the Pacific

What is Digital Humanities? (Sept 7)

Articles World Bubble

The cirrus generated above is based on the four most recently assigned readings; clearly, they all discuss the digital humanities and sharing (disregard pingback as it is just an automatic notification). It also includes interesting words that describe the digital humanities such as scholarship, imagine, share, new, ideas, debates, and communication.

Being a newly emerging field of the humanities, digital humanities has not fully established an identity. I believe the main reason to this is that there is, as Kathleen Fitzpatrick describes it, a “theory-practice divide.” There are scholars who use digital technologies to study traditional humanities objects and there are those who use methods of contemporary humanities to study digital objects. With that being said, Mark Sample, author of the article “The Digital Humanities is Not About Building, It’s About Sharing,” describes the “heart of digital humanities” as the reproduction of knowledge. Furthermore, Andrew Smith’s “The Promise of Digital Humanities” proposes that the most promising aspect of the Digital Humanities is the machine analysis of texts, also known as data mining.  But now that we know that digital humanities has its prospects, practices, and problems, what is it exactly?

The digital humanities, to my knowledge and in the simplest form, is a cross between computing and the humanities, purposed to share ideas and create a new, public channel for scholarship. In my experience (four two-hour classes of an introductory class), there has been a huge emphasis on our relationship with technology. It is no secret that we are on the horizon of an internet age, or what some may call an algorithmic culture, or even a computational theocracy. Therefore, we as modern creatures have created many digitized habits.Although the digital humanities clashes with the norm, it promotes openness, collaboration, and experimentation. Nonetheless, I believe the digital humanities is purposed to “pursue a public role for scholarship,” as Lisa Spiro (“Defining the Values of the Digital Humanities”) words it. The digital humanities should not be debated about, rather embraced by both types of scholars (whether that be more humanities or digital-oriented) and used as a community to share. In this new technology-governed society, traditional humanities is being repurposed, beginning with digital humanities.


1 Comment

  1. s_nuuhiwa

    I appreciate how you tied Voyant into the assignment. Utilizing your resources helped visual learners realize the subject matter is consistently changing. For example, referencing Figure 1, works like “debate,” “vs,” and “research” helps to emphasize that digital humanities does not have a fully established identity. I love the support you used to emphasize this claim. Specifically, the theory-practice divide.

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