Tag Archives: DHdefinition

Shifts in thinking: DH definitions

Beginning of class: Digital Humanities is a field established within academic institutions that extend methods and practices for research, archive, pedagogy, etc. that takes place on a digital platform.

The functionalities of DH that interested me the most during the course of the class discussion was its possibility to add layers to text and academic discourse. In a grant report I was preparing, about MoMA’s own experimental platform, post.at.moma.org, I found myself discussing its aim to encourage networked learning, and allow multiple voices to be added to a single essay, or any presentations on the site. Though the design is not exactly effectively conveying these goals (needs improvement) but our main interest in building this site, I hope, will continue to grow and encourage a new way of writing/discussing art histories.

Another aspects of DH I found appealing was some project’s aim to provide accessibility to knowledge making and resources, and mode of work, which is collaboration. I recently realized that while it is very important to think about preservation and of vulnerable Japanese experimental film and video is urgent, providing access to researchers (say though an online platform) is the end-goal of the effort at large. By providing access, there may be new scholarship that emerge, which could lead to exhibitions, screenings, conferences, etc. The emergence of interest (currently there is not much research being done on Japanese early video), there could be opportunity for fund-raising for preservation of works. My thinking in the past couple weeks has been reversed: from preservation–> accessibility, to accessibility–>preservation.

Post-class definition: Digital Humanities is a current development in academia in which disciplines are extending their research methods, aided by new technology, to include among other characteristics, a collaborative mode of working, layered knowledge making, and opening accessibility to research data as well as systems of knowledge making.



Defining DH (again)

1st Definition: The Digital Humanities is the use of digital and technological advances in academia.

2nd Definition: The Digital Humanities is a broad field of study (usually collaborative and project-based) dedicated to digital and technological integration in academic scholarship and pedagogy.

There was a lot of discussion of “digital tools” used in DH. The way I see it, there are two opposite (yet equally useful) approaches: 1) a DHer looks at the digital tools at his or her disposal and asks, “How can I integrate these into my field of research or pedagogy?” or 2) a DHer evaluates systems of research and pedagogy that may be lacking, and then finds the right digital tools with which to get the job done more effectively. In either case, I think the common thread is the DHer’s dedication to the integration of these tools for the betterment of his primary field of study.

Is there an “analogue” humanities?

I don’t have a definition of Digital Humanities yet. I came into the class thinking of it as related to library sciences. After our meeting, I am thinking about the following:

1. If “analogue” is indeed the opposite (or predecessor) of “digital,” is there (was there) ever an “analogue” humanities?

2. I don’t think it’s helpful to think of DH as a set of tools. Too often, then, it becomes easy to group it with Constructivist pedagogy. I still maintain (especially after perusing the MLA job listings) that the majority of DH jobs advertised include a “preferred” or “required” background in library sciences. I suspect that the DH jobs are not being advertised on MLA as DH jobs because many schools see DH as a tools-based discipline; unfortunately, this places DH in the realm of “academic technology,” which leads to a large number of staff-based rather than faculty-based positions. I have found, though, that these staff-based positions often come with teaching and research opportunities, and I’m curious to see what will happen to DH as more universities adopt a business model and strip down their academic departments.

There There is no need to be afraid of coding! These days, DH job descriptions include a list of languages with which one should be familiar when applying (i.e., HTML, CSS, PHP, Python, etc.). I’ve seen more and more job descriptions asking for ITIL Advanced Certification. Why in the world would a graduate student from the Humanities be aware of such certifications, or be willing to pay the $2000 for the most basic level of that certification? In the few AT interviews I’ve gone to, the interviewers cannot really elucidate how these languages or certifications will apply in the day-to-day tasks.



Defining DH: An Exercise

1st Definition: A discipline that functions to study, promote, and create digital technology and tools to advance scholarship, knowledge, and literacy among humanities disciplines.

2nd Definition: A field/movement that leverages digital technology to promote knowledge and exploration in the humanities.

When our class grappled with the definition of DH, one issue captured my attention in particular- will Digital Humanities become obsolete once the “Digital” component fully saturates the academy? If DH loses its luster on the way to commonplace, who’s to say a midlife crisis/senioritis moment won’t destroy the thing altogether? The intransigence, exclusivity, bureaucracy, etc. which often plagues the establishment could conceivably take the wind out of DH’s sails, too…right? As I imagine this doomsday scenario, I find myself asking another set of questions: What attracted me to DH? What do I want from DH? What do I want to contribute to DH?

The answers that come to mind have formulated my take on why DH has the potential to stick around for a while. I like DH for its flexibility and adaptability, its collaboration and interdisciplinarity, its versioning and experimentation, its hands on approach, and its scholarly approach. There is inherent dualism in much of DH and I believe there will never be a shortage of demand to improve the interconnectedness between mind and matter.

I expect DH will have quite a few growing pains, but I do believe there’s no reason why the foundations of DH can’t serve the next iteration well. First “Humanities Computing,” now “Digital Humanities” …what’s next?

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.

A Digital Humanist is You

1st definition: Using computers and technology (analysis and exposure) to find new questions and answers in the humanities.

2nd definition: Digital Humanities is whatever someone who considers themselves to be a Digital Humanist happens to be doing.

Bit of a tautology. I came across this field after a few small projects of my own, and found that everyone who was doing work I found interesting and similar to my own was calling it Digital Humanities. In that sense I would say that DH is about methods and practice, rather than theory. I don’t even know that I would call it its own ‘field’. Instead it looks more like established fields of research learning new tricks.

Defining DH

1. I began the class having defined Digital Humanities as an experimental interdisciplinary field, that not only has a history and study all its own that is based on the emergence of new media and how its been incorporated in humanities, but also is a collection of tools that can be used to contribute to teaching and learning.

2. After our discussion, I am leaning towards defining DH as an ever changing interdisciplinary field that involves the use of new media devices to teach, learn, and share humanities discourse. It looks to give traditional humanities new meaning with the use of various technologies, collaboration with others, and connectedness that the digital age has afforded us.

3. Our class discussion made me interested in refining my definition further to explain that DH is a tool for the humanities. Although it’s it’s own field, it is one that is actively affecting traditional humanities work and research by providing new ways to improve this work. Looking at the “Eversion” piece and having discussed it allowed me to think about humanities in this aspect as well; how over time with the perverse nature of digital technologies in our society, it makes sense that it would penetrate academic work and become a solid foundation for work over time. However the points brought up in class, that with the ever changing nature of technology in general (new tools, software, and hardware) we may always have a way to look at DH as a field to understand how these tools benefit humanities discourse.

Defining DH “Revised”

At the start of class:  DH is augmented reality that includes immediate access to information whether on the internet or not.

End of Class:  Eversion provides easy access for engaging, learning and creating.

After Class:  The idea of children using devices for entertainment or learning without knowing “how it works” came up in class last night and I thought  accessibility is complimented by eversion which enhances the ability to experience traditional humanities.  As technology marches forward and there is curiosity, there will be discussion, research, art, growth.  The field provides an interesting and exciting framework for advancing learning, and creating in the humanities.

DH Definition in Transition

Beginning of class: The traditional studies in the humanities layered with digital tools that enhance the ability to collaborate and to share scholarship but also that contributes to the field of study in a meaningful/relevant way.

End of class: I haven’t framed it properly yet, but it’s active. My definition before class has too many infinitives and weak verbs. I think maybe the digital humanities needs to have active participation. Maybe it’s about actively engaging with the resources and the texts through digital tools.

I feel like in “traditional” humanities studies, there’s quite a bit of passive engagement with the text. You read it, yes. But it doesn’t have the ability to act on you in any way (yes, it can cause some sort of intense reaction, but how often does that happen really, especially when we’re teaching first year writing?) nor do you have the ability to act on it. We can, as English professors love to say, rip the text up and analyze it, but we don’t do anything to the text. It’s still there on the pages as it was before. There seems to be an element of interaction that in some way changes either the object or the viewer in some way. Still thinking, but I’m sticking with the word active.

DH Definitions: Before, after and now.

1. At the start of class: Digital Humanities could be defined as the broad and fluctuating assortment of an amalgamation of all facets of the established humanities which are connected and/or mediated by technology.

2. End of Class: Digital Humanities could be defined as the radical shift in the traditional humanities that integrates the entire scope of technological interaction which may yield a mixture of collaborative and emerging work.

3. After the discussion in class I believe there is an essential aspect to the digital humanities versus the traditional humanities and that is the coined word “eversion”. All we know to be true within the idea of acquired knowledge has altered and will continue to change. The ability to access, collaborate and build momentum is the central shift. Since technology is allowing for the outsider to enter into a new relationship between the traditional humanities and the digital humanities, this new relationship has endless possibilities in virtually (pun intended) all aspects of knowledge.