Introduction to Digital Humanities

What is Digital Humanities?

As a diverse and still emerging field, there is no agreed-upon definition for the term "digital humanities." To capture the state of the field, the What is Digital Humanities? website, embedded above, provides users with a different definition every time the site is refreshed.

One source of disagreement concerns the relationship between the traditional and digital humanities. Whereas some scholars see a divide, others see the relationship between the two as a "spectrum," arguing that "all humanities scholars use digital practices and concepts to one degree or another" (Lincoln Mullen, 2010). On one end of this spectrum are scholars who use basic digital tools and resources, such as word processing programs and Google. On the other end are those who use computational methods in their research and/or produce scholarship that is interactive, hypertextual, virtual, networked and/or simulated

Annotation #1

In our first class discussion we will discuss some of the most salient characteristics of digital humanities work. To prepare, please read and collaboratively annotate:

1.Burdick, Anne, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, Todd Presner, and Jeffrey Schnapp. "A Short Guide To The Digital_Humanities" in Digital_Humanities. Open Access. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2012. Hypothesis link.

Why Annotate?

Annotating is a form of active reading where you record your critical engagement with a text. You can identify arguments, weigh evidence, evaluate sources, identify assumptions, pose questions and examine connections with other course materials and themes.

You should annotate as you read because it:

Annotating with

In this course we will collaboratively annotate with the web-annotation app, which allows you to tag, highlight, comment, reply, and embed media and links to online sources. To participate you will need to create a account  (sign up here), add the extension to your Chrome browser, and join our group by signing into your account and visiting the link that’s been shared with you. Once you’ve joined our group "DH Fall 2019," that same link will serve as our group home page. At the group home page, you can see a list of group members with links to their annotations and links to the resources annotated by the group. You can also link away to a stream of annotations created by group members across various resources. For technical questions please consult' Student Resource Guide and youtube playlist Tutorials.

Evaluating DH Projects

The project, as Anne Burdick et al. explain in the assigned reading, is the "basic unit" of DH scholarship. Because DH projects are both "continuous" and  "discontinuous" with traditional forms of humanities scholarship, they need to be evaluated based on their humanistic merits (i.e. use of evidence, argumentation, etc. ) and digital merits. Some questions to consider when evaluating the digital merits of a project include:In recent years professional humanities organizations, such as the American Historical Association and the Modern Language Association, have published their own discipline-specific guidelines for evaluating digital scholarship. The AHA's guidelines can be found here; the MLA's here.  They have yet, however, to compile bibliographies and repositories of the DH scholarship conducted and  published in their fields. 

Locating DH Projects

So how do you go about finding DH projects? DH projects are often multi-year collaborative endeavors. As such, they are frequently housed in libraries (see this report) and research centers, such as the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University and the HumTech at UCLA.  One way to find DH projects, then, is to identify the major institutions in the field and search their collections. Because digital humanists regularly communicate via-twitter, you can also find out about projects by following prominent scholars and institutions as well as popular hashtags like #dh or #twitterstorians​. Finally, you can use Google like a scholar​ to search for DH projects related to particular topics and themes.

Assignment #1

For the first assignment locate and carry out a formal academic review of a digital humanities project that is not listed on the "Resources" page.  For tips on how to conduct and structure your review read The Public Historian Digital Project Review Guidelines and consult reviews that have been published in the journal. Post the review to your "Assignment #1" page of our Scalar workbook and be prepared to present your selected project to the class.


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