January 31 – What is/are Digital Humanities?

///January 31 – What is/are Digital Humanities?
January 31 – What is/are Digital Humanities? 2018-01-04T16:07:51-05:00


Gold, Matthew K. “The Digital Humanities Moment” in Debates in the Digital Humanities. Gold, Matthew K., ed. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

Haigh, Thomas. “We Have Never Been Digital.” Communications of the ACM 57, no. 9 (September 1, 2014): 24–28. doi:10.1145/2644148.

Lubar, Steven. “In Response to a State Humanities Council Question: What Are the Digital Humanities, and What Should We Do about Them?On Public Humanities.

Choose one chapter from: Terras, Melissa M., Julianne Nyhan, and Edward Vanhoutte, eds. Defining Digital Humanities: A Reader. Farnham, Surrey, England : Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Limited ; Ashgate Publishing Company, 2013.

An Introduction to History Moves

Wizinsky, Matthew, & Brier, Jennifer. “History Moves: Mobilizing Public Histories in Post-Digital Space.” Scholarly and Research Communication, 7, no. 2 (October 2016): 0201248, 13 pp.


Post a definition of the Digital Humanities of your own creation on the course site.

How to do this:

  • Log in to the site
  • Rollover Digital Humanities: Analysis and Visualization in the top admin bar and click on Dashboard
  • Rollover Posts and click Add New
  • Things to do on this post page
    • Make sure you give your post a title
    • Post your definition in the text edit box
    • Under categories, check off your name and  DH Definition
    • Click Publish on the right side of the screen

Definitions of DH

Digital Humanities: A definition

May 15th, 2017|0 Comments

Digital Humanities as a discipline deals mainly with the application of digital techniques such as text and data analysis and text encoding to traditional humanities academic work for the purpose of answering new questions, discovering new insights about familiar texts or documents, or for subverting familiar understandings. Digital Humanities approaches are not scientific and are often more like art in the inexact way they open traditional works more widely to interpretation and experience.

What Is DH? (Part 2)

January 31st, 2017|0 Comments

Definition of DH :  (Taking some of the wording from History Moves abstract) The intersection of the digital medium and the humanities field. In an attempt to collect, edit, manipulate, store, display, distrubte, and otherwise produce humanities work such as art, history, language, literary analysis and works via a complex network of digital technologies and media. Thoughts on defining DH: I have spent the last semester trying to explain what in the world is a DH course to a wide variety of ‘outside folk’.  On the surface the definition is ‘simple’: it is the idea of using digital tools to enhance the understanding of humanities field. But as you peel back each layer of that sentence you get into the nuances of what does it mean to be a digit tool? What does it mean to enhance? And what is even a humanities field? Originally my thoughts were that to [...]

defining digital humanities

January 31st, 2017|0 Comments

Digital humanists use the theoretical frameworks of the traditional humanities to understand society's new interactions with technology. At the same time, the field employs new digital tools to better understand the humanities of the past. The link between the digital and the humanities is a natural one—the history of computing is connected with the task of composition.

DH Definition_ Sarah DeMott

January 31st, 2017|0 Comments

Digital Humanities is the intersection of cultural studies (art, literature, film, theater, performance, history) and computer  science.   The combination(?) of Humanities and Computer Science's methodological approaches create new structures in which to create, model, and analyze human forms of expression.

WWDHD – What would Digital Humanities Do?

January 31st, 2017|0 Comments

Digital humanities appears to me to be the study of humanities using or enhanced by digital platforms. I'm not sure if it constitutes a different definition than the humanities or if it is a subcategory of the humanities - in other words, digital humanists are also humanists, in my opinion.

Defining Digital Humanities

January 30th, 2017|0 Comments

Because of the fluidity of the term "Digital Humanities" and the rapid pace by which it is redefined, I decided to look back at my first attempt at defining DH from last semester. Highlights include: "...concerned with the pursuit of non-linear knowledge found in producing a tool-based theory that emphasizes collaboration in a fluid field..." "...it is a scholarly approach to humanist theory that utilizes the building of, or access to, digital tools to express theories wherein the results of the production of an application of said tools requires a qualitative, human reading to construct validity or meaning." Honestly, not bad for my initial swing at it - I sounded very scientific for my first week of grad school. But let's be honest, I was probably just doing my best to string along pieces of other people's definitions in a way that sort of made sense to me at the time. [...]

Atoms & Bits

January 30th, 2017|0 Comments

  The Digital Humanities looks at the study of humanities through the lense of computing, and looks at the world of computing through the theoretical framework of the humanities.   It is both theoretical and practice-based; both qualitative and quantitative; it encompasses both atoms and bits.

Digital Humanities as a transitional label.

January 30th, 2017|0 Comments

My first attempt to define Digital Humanities might be too reckless, this is due to my absolute ignorance in the field. For now, I see Digital Humanities as a tent under which the Humanities have been gathering a range of new projects and methodologies regarding research, teaching, and other academic activities. Digital Humanities concern both the new digital tools to tackle old-school research fields, and approach the age-old epistemological concerns regarding new media and technologies. In this sense, I see “Digital Humanities” as a useful label for a transitional time, in which scholars of all kinds are inventing new forms of working within the Humanities, both using new digital technologies and reflecting on them. Picking up on Thomas Haigh’s article “We Have Never Been Digital”, I believe that Digital Humanities might eventually expire as a concept, as soon as it becomes redundant. Someday all the Humanities will involve digital technologies, to an extent that shall depend on [...]

Humanist studies in a digital world

January 30th, 2017|0 Comments

Despite the fact that I am a humanities student and (as is almost unavoidable by now) a user of technology, until about a year ago I thought of “Digital Humanities” as a completely foreign concept, something that felt beyond my ability to understand, much less utilize. It was only when I was given a practical example of a DH project that I was able to attach any meaning to the term. Now I feel able to describe broadly what I believe Digital Humanities encompasses, but I still find it more helpful to think of it as a set of practical applications, a series of use cases that can vary widely. This is because to me, a defining quality of Digital Humanities is its active nature. Although reading a novel online is a digitally-based activity in the realm of the humanities, it is not an example of Digital Humanities because it [...]

Digital Humanities: A Bridge From Humanities To Humanities

January 29th, 2017|0 Comments

What is Digital Humanities? The answer to this question has been in flux for several years and is an active topic of debate among academics and scholars who practice this discipline. (I’m sure there could be many colloquies about whether “practice” is the correct verb and “discipline” the right noun, but if I take too much time to address it, I may never have time to learn Digital Humanities). Opinions vary, even veering into territory viewed as extreme by academia. Stephen Ramsey, for example, caused a stir when he answered “yes” to his own question about doing digital humanities: “Do you have to know how to code?” (He later suggested that “build” was a more apt word than “code.”) A completely different viewpoint came from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities enumerating how the council might support digital humanities projects. One of the definitions that RICH swiftly kicked out [...]

Defining Digital Humanities

February 11th, 2016|0 Comments

It seems first and foremost that Digital Humanities have to do, or take place (at least) partially in the academy and largely involve digital media. I understand this definition goes against some of the pieces, but it seems first and foremost, digital humanities are about using the digital (new digital tools, platforms, media, etc.) to reinstate, question, supplement, answer, or at least intersect with traditional media or "traditional humanities", and vice versa. It also seems being a Digital Humanist means constantly being active within communities, as well. Regardless if it's an actual Digital Humanities board/blog/talk/etc., or being active on a social media platform, you almost have to be constantly upgrading and integrating yourself into new digital communities. As Haigh points out, having your own website now just doesn't seem to cut it. You need to be constantly collaborating,  socializing, and updating your toolkit/resources/information. That being said, there is a necessary [...]

It’s All DH to Me

February 11th, 2016|0 Comments

To me, the digital humanities is the logical next step in humanistic study. As the world begins to exponentially increase its relationship with and reliance on computers, the digital humanities seems a fitting way to ensure that human-related fields of academia keep close to understanding/engaging with what human culture is doing. The field of DH itself, and the actual work done within it, seems at this point all-inclusive. Like Haigh suggests in "We Have Never Been Digital", I do see it as  "...encompass[ing] every area of computer use (from text mining to 3D world building) over every humanities discipline (from literary theory to classics) (28)." I do not consider that point to be negative, though. I think that DH needs to have this range of digital academic work to really get the ball rolling. Yes, I also agree with Haigh that in the future the "tools most useful to a [...]

Define Digital Humanities

February 11th, 2016|0 Comments

The first time I had to interact with the term "digital humanities" was one time in a college course. Through that course, I had defined digital humanities as how people interact with each other in the virtual world created by humans. While online, people are not just simply using the machines but to interact with other "identities" on the same platform. Users can act differently from the physical world and speak freely online. Just as how Gold describes in "The Digital Humanities Moments" that it is a space opens for people share feedbacks and thoughts.


  1. Shoshanah January 30, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    In ‘The Digital Humanities Moment’ Matthew Gold cites Ramsay’s controversial statement that the Digital Humanities are about “building things.” If the Humanities are about reading and critiquing (theoretical) and the Digital is about building and making (practical); then perhaps the Digital Humanities are about what exists in the interstices of reading and critiquing, building and making?

    In ‘We Have Never Been Digital’ Thomas Haigh states, “[DH] is consistently presented as a revolutionary force whose imminent impact on society would utterly transform our lives.” Haigh is referring to a physical impact (he gives the example of a crater forming when a meteor hits Earth). But what of impact in a larger sense of the word; what of impact as affect? In ‘Metaphysics’ Aristotle wrote, “all arts, i.e. all productive forms of knowledge, are potencies; they are originating sources of change in another thing.” I believe that the imminent impact on society—to which Haigh refers—is due to the Digital Humanities being what Aristotle called “a productive form of knowledge.” As such, DH has to potential to be a catalyst—a source of change. Will it “utterly transform our lives”…hasn’t it already?

    In ‘We Have Never Been Digital’ (page 25, top of the middle column) Haigh writes: “This formulation captures its central promise: that a new technology is so powerful and far-reaching it will break mankind free of history.” I’m not sure I understand this statement. Looking for insights…

  2. Whitney January 30, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    1.) What is the field of DH doing to actively make what it may see as desirable changes to the academy? Or is DH currently more reactionay in nature when it comes to the sort of significant changes Gold mentions in “The Digital Humanities Moment”? To reiterate what Gold asks, “does [DH] have politics?”

    2.) Based on Haigh’s statement in “We Have Never Been Digital” that, “after an initial surge of interest in computerization during the 1950s, there have been two subsequent peaks of enthusiasm,” – the late 1970s and 1990s – are we still currently riding the enthusiasm of the 1990s? Or have we moved on to a new era – what might be the implications of either option?

    3.) What does it mean to be “media conscious” during a period of such conflict in American history?

  3. Hannah January 31, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Does digital humanities constitute its own field? Or is it a subset of humanities? – this is a question that impacted my understanding of the “definition” of DH. My experience is that DH does not, at least in the traditional sense of the academy, constitute its own field.

    If digital humanities is “digital” then is humanities “analog”?

    What are the implications of digital humanities for the public and how does digital humanities transform with technology – Haigh discusses two period that seemed to be period of technological surges, but can digital humanities evolve if technology does not? Are we beholden to the current tools in our field, or can we use these tools in different ways, different assemblages to create movement and progress within digital humanities.

  4. phyllis plitch January 31, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    1. Can we parse Haigh’s argument against Digital Humanities to get a better understanding of the foundation for his final compare and contrast? I realize this is very simplistic analysis, but just for discussion purposes: I feel like his main argument is that he likes his field better than DH, and I’m not really sure how his discipline is the same or different, better or worse than Digital Humanities in any substantive way. Is there a there there that I’m missing?

    2. Have the Digital humanist’s tools become more sophisticated in the last couple of years since Haigh’s article was published? It seems like his descriptions of the potential research possible with the tools are very limited. (And I don’t think he included an actual example.)

    3. A three-part question — More generally: Why is defining Digital Humanities so fraught with controversy and why does the field suffer this ongoing identity crisis? Is there an academic analogue to DH, or is DH alone in this constant search for a clear identity? Do you think we will ever move past trying to define Digital Humanism? Thanks.

  5. Jane Excell January 31, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Steven Lubar’s concept of Digital Humanities seems to encompass much more than either Haigh or Gold’s; he includes what he calls “Public Digital Humanities” in his definitions, which he exemplifies as “a smartphone tour of historical landscapes.” He also includes the idea that DH works “to bring the humanities to the digital world.” Would the authors of this week’s other readings agree that these fall under the umbrella of Digital Humanities?

    In the first chapter of Defining Digital Humanities: A Reader, author Geoffrey Rockwell voices the fear that Digital Humanities, or “Humanities Computing” as he calls it in 1999, may serve to somehow obscure or undermine traditional humanities work: “what we do may hide the traditions we were taught to love” (19). This fear strikes me as the product of a time when technological tools were only just starting to be widely applied to scholarly work and it was perhaps more difficult to predict what effect they would have; it reminds me of fears that the advent of the e-book would make the print book obsolete. These fears seem unwarranted to me, but perhaps I’ve already lost some of the traditional humanities mindset that Rockwell sought to uphold. Would he still have the same opinion today- nearly twenty years after that chapter was written?

    Haigh and Gold both raise the question of “whether a humanist has to code to be digital” (Haigh, 28), but I was left feeling uncertain as to the answer. Is there any consensus as to what level of technological proficiency a humanist must have in order to be considered “digital”? Should there be?

  6. Sarah January 31, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Q 1) Julianne Nyhan and Melissa Terras, “Introduction” Digital Research in the Arts and Humanities.
    Is the academy moving beyond the disciplines? Is “Digital Culture” a more appropriate term (at least for interdisciplinary work) rather than Digital Humanities or Digital Social Sciences? See SSRC., Digital Cultutre http://www.ssrc.org/programs/view/digital-culture/

    Q 2) Thomas Haigh, “Historical Reflections. We Have Never Been Digital” states that Digital Humanities is simply a “fashionable concept?” How does fashionable operate in terms of technological change? Is it different. Where does fashionable (new and trending at the moment) shift to in it’s afterlife – outdated or could it be simply normalized and incorporated. What happens to trends in technologically, do we know if they are assimilated or discarded or re-purposed or part of a larger evolution? Is the idea of “fashionable” is appropriate when considering DH.

    Q3) Haigh, states “Like air and drinking water, being digital will be noticed only by its absence not its presence. Wow! What a display of western elitism!

  7. Cat January 31, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    In “We Have Never Been Digital,” Thomas Haigh discusses and deconstructs the framing of the conception of digital technology as a revolutionary break in the timeline of humanity (25-27). To what extent was/is this framing intentional, on the part of those who had/have commercial interests embedded in the new industries of computing and digital technologies?

    Much of Haigh’s argument against DH is centered around dismissing the idea of the digital as a new concept (27-28). What are some other reasons that DH is criticized?

    Steven Lubar discusses the concept of the “public digital humanities”. To me, what he is describing sounds like using digital technology for PR. Why would this be looped in with the humanities?

  8. Lauren January 31, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    In the history moves essay – Jennifer writes about going beyond the boundaries that typically existed in humanities. What are the current boundaries of humanities? Which parts of the digital format open boundaries, is it just an ease of access thing? Is the open of boundaries good for all humanities fields? Does it move in any boundaries? Is it creating a boundary between classic and digital humanities? Connecting back to the defining digital humanities – the why does this definition matter? Who benefits from it being defined? Who suffers from it?

    The line that stuck most with me was the idea that history has become an infinite scroll of micro events. The word choice of infinite is interesting in that it highlights the inability to consume it all, the way then people digest it is via a sampling of micro events? Are historical events all just micro events or are we losing the ability to synthesize the big deal events from the overwhelming number of small events we see each day? Is this the problem with a distracted culture that is unable to process things like the changing political situation?

    In the word digital humanities – are the words equal in weight? is it being digital more important and then you can be fuzzy on the def of humanities? or is it more important to be clearly humanities and then fuzzy on the def of digital? digital changes faster in definition than humanities is that what creates the more solid stack in the ground?but one is much more embedded in “day to day” life?

  9. Alfo February 6, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    1. Following Haigh’s skepticism in his article “We have never been digital”, what is the main difference between the current DH wave and other technological trends that have historically affected the production and interpretation of the Humanities?

    2. In his article, Steven Lubar’s draws three areas within the DH. The second one is defined as ‘the traditional questions of the humanities, applied to help us to interrogate and understand the contemporary digital world’. How is the questioning of the contemporary digital world a specific area of Digital Humanities, and not the Humanities in general?

    3. Wendell Piez’ chapter in Defining Digital Humanities: A Reader (Chapter 8. “Something Called Digital Humanities”) was written in 2008. Four years later, in 2012, he wrote a note putting some perspective to his text’s enthusiasm, that had compared the advent of DH with the cultural turn of the Renaissance. It has been five years sine he wrote that note, what would he say today?

  10. jpetinos May 1, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    1) Why are universities investing so much in digital humanities? Who gets to decide what Digital Humanities consist of? Is an academic who uses Microsoft Word, a digital humanist? What about an academic who uses a database for research? An academic who contributes to a database? One who builds the database? Which digital tools are “digital enough,” and how does this concept have to do with what technology is widely recognized as familiar (Microsoft Word) and what technology is not quite as widely embraced by the academy? (programming)

    2) Gold writes “Indeed, fault lines have emerged within the DH community between those who use new digital tools to aid relatively traditional scholarly projects and those who believe that DH is most powerful as a disruptive political force that has the potential to reshape fundamental aspects of academic practice.”

    How do these fault lines reveal the fragility of the constructs of academic disciplines? Since academics rely on universities and grants for funding and livelihood, are those who study digital humanities inadvertently eroding the structures that support themselves?

    3)In “We Have Never Been Digital,” Haigh writes “self-proclaimed digital humanists have appreciably less terrible prospects for employment and grant funding as a humanist than the fusty analog variety.” How can we understand DH as a way for the humanities to stay relevant in the current environment? How can we understand DH in the context of the pressures of the current economy and labor market?

Leave A Comment