Digital Humanities: the State of the Field

7 06 2011

As regular readers of this blog will know, digital history/digital humanities is one of my interests. I’m most interested in quantitative discourse analysis and crowdsourcing.

I’ve often thought about how we can define “digital humanities”. What is it? When and where did it begin? What direction is it going in? Are there any controversies/debates within the digital humanities field? Is there a good literature survey/guide to this rapidly growing field?

Nathan Johnson, is about to join the Depart­ment of Eng­lish at Pur­due Uni­ver­sity as an assistant professor. He studies and teaches about “infor­ma­tion infra­struc­ture, rhetoric, sci­ence, and tech­nol­ogy”. Johnson has written an interesting bibliography of sources related to such questions.  I have pasted it below, but you can see it in its original context here.

Because of my disciplinary bias as a historian, I think that the best way to define “digital humanities” is to explore how the field has evolved since it was created. Unfortunately, the Wikipedia page for “digital humanities” is rather weak on historical background, although we do learn there that before c. 2011 “digital humanities” was known as “humanities computing”.

I therefore read a recent blog post by Eric Johnson, the webmaster at Monticello historic site (the home of Thomas Jefferson) with interest.  Johnson was blegging for advice about how to go about writing such a history. It will be interesting to see what Johnson does with the advice he has been given.

Watch this space!




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