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DH: Practice and Theory

INITIAL DEFINITION: The theory and practice of digital technology application in academic research, promoting an inclusive community of scholars and non-scholars and crossing disciplinary lines.

ADDENDUM: I would certainly add the role of pedagogy, both in practice and theory, to this definition. My only other concern is the scope of what I mean by “academic research”. Does this include all academic research or merely humanities-based research? I would like to think it includes all academic disciplines, including the sciences, despite the term “humanities” in DH. However, limitations seem necessary. For example, my field of film studies innately requires the use of digital technology (i.e., the ability to operate a DVD player), but I wouldn’t consider this digital humanities per se. Therefore, how advanced do the tools need to be to fall under the digital humanities umbrella?

 

Furthermore, I would like to reflect on two additional points.

Firstly, I think the theoretical aspect of DH is important, which seems to be what Liu and Ramsay are getting at in their recent blog posts. Though we are all eager (myself included) to dive into the practical side of DH, it is crucial to reflect and make sense out of how digital tools are affecting scholarship and what it means to be human.

Secondly, while reading an article for another class, “Books in Time” by Carla Hesse, I was struck by a passage that seemed relevant to DH:

In the future, it seems, there will be no fixed canons of texts and no fixed epistemological boundaries between disciplines, only paths of inquiry, modes of integration, and moments of encounter (Hesse, 31).

Presently, DH seems to be the latter, not a discipline, but perhaps it is superfluous and contradictory to attempt to define it as such.