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Debates in the Digital Humanities

2012

Matthew K. Gold, Editor

Debates in the Digital Humanities

OPEN ACCESS EDITION

 

Leading figures in the digital humanities explore the field’s rapid revolution

Debates in the Digital Humanities brings together leading figures in the field to explore its theories, methods, and practices and to clarify its multiple possibilities and tensions. Together, the essays suggest that the digital humanities is uniquely positioned to contribute to the revival of the humanities and academic life.

"Is there such a thing as ‘digital’ humanities? From statistical crunches of texts to new forms of online collaboration and peer review, it’s clear something is happening. This book is an excellent primer on the arguments over just how much is changing—and how much more ought to—in the way scholars study the humanities."
—Clive Thompson, columnist for Wired and contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine

Encompassing new technologies, research methods, and opportunities for collaborative scholarship and open-source peer review, as well as innovative ways of sharing knowledge and teaching, the digital humanities promises to transform the liberal arts—and perhaps the university itself. Indeed, at a time when many academic institutions are facing austerity budgets, digital humanities programs have been able to hire new faculty, establish new centers and initiatives, and attract multimillion-dollar grants.  

Clearly the digital humanities has reached a significant moment in its brief history. But what sort of moment is it? Debates in the Digital Humanities brings together leading figures in the field to explore its theories, methods, and practices and to clarify its multiple possibilities and tensions. From defining what a digital humanist is and determining whether the field has (or needs) theoretical grounding, to discussions of coding as scholarship and trends in data-driven research, this cutting-edge volume delineates the current state of the digital humanities and envisions potential futures and challenges. At the same time, several essays aim pointed critiques at the field for its lack of attention to race, gender, class, and sexuality; the inadequate level of diversity among its practitioners; its absence of political commitment; and its preference for research over teaching.

Together, the essays in Debates in the Digital Humanities—which will be published both as a printed book and later as an ongoing, open-access website—suggest that the digital humanities is uniquely positioned to contribute to the revival of the humanities and academic life.

Contributors: Bryan Alexander, National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education; Rafael Alvarado, U of Virginia; Jamie “Skye” Bianco, U of Pittsburgh; Ian Bogost, Georgia Institute of Technology; Stephen Brier, CUNY Graduate Center; Daniel J. Cohen, George Mason U; Cathy N. Davidson, Duke U; Rebecca Frost Davis, National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education; Johanna Drucker, U of California, Los Angeles; Amy E. Earhart, Texas A&M U; Charlie Edwards; Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Pomona College; Julia Flanders, Brown U; Neil Fraistat, U of Maryland; Paul Fyfe, Florida State U; Michael Gavin, Rice U; David Greetham, CUNY Graduate Center; Jim Groom, U of Mary Washington; Gary Hall, Coventry U, UK; Mills Kelly, George Mason U; Matthew Kirschenbaum, U of Maryland; Alan Liu, U of California, Santa Barbara; Elizabeth Losh, U of California, San Diego; Lev Manovich, U of California, San Diego; Willard McCarty, King’s College London; Tara McPherson, U of Southern California; Bethany Nowviskie, U of Virginia; Trevor Owens, Library of Congress; William Pannapacker, Hope College; Dave Parry, U of Texas at Dallas; Stephen Ramsay, U of Nebraska, Lincoln; Alexander Reid, SUNY at Buffalo; Geoffrey Rockwell, Canadian Institute for Research Computing in the Arts; Mark L. Sample, George Mason U; Tom Scheinfeldt, George Mason U; Kathleen Marie Smith; Lisa Spiro, National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education; Patrik Svensson, Umeå U; Luke Waltzer, Baruch College; Matthew Wilkens, U of Notre Dame; George H. Williams, U of South Carolina Upstate; Michael Witmore, Folger Shakespeare Library.

Debates in the Digital Humanities

Matthew K. Gold is associate professor of English and digital humanities at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where he is advisor to the Provost for digital initiatives and director of the GC Digital Scholarship Lab.

Debates in the Digital Humanities

Is there such a thing as ‘digital’ humanities? From statistical crunches of texts to new forms of online collaboration and peer review, it’s clear something is happening. This book is an excellent primer on the arguments over just how much is changing—and how much more ought to—in the way scholars study the humanities.

Clive Thompson, columnist for Wired and contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine

I look forward to the day when anxieties about the disruptive nature of ‘digital humanities’ fade into memory and the innovative methods, theories, and approaches championed by those who have contributed to this valuable volume are respected across academia for their rigor and utility. This book will go a long way toward clarifying the debates within and about digital humanities.

Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of The Googlization of Everything—and Why We Should Worry

[The book] reflects . . . the diversity, openness, and community spirit of the digital humanities.

Inside Higher Ed

Though Debates in the Digital Humanities is well over 500 pages in length, there is no fat in it; all essays contain important information and concepts relating to DH. Taken together, the book as a whole and every essay in it is a must-read for anyone who claims to be a digital humanist whether she or he works in theory, pedagogy, and/or practice.

Leonardo Reviews

A substantial collection . . . [whose] contributors include most of the scholars who have been most prominent in the emergence of digital humanities over the past few years.

Times Literary Supplement

The essays in Gold’s collection demonstrate the positive effects of a cross-fertilization of ideas, as the authors often refer to one another in their work. The result is an anthology that reads like a conversation—dynamic, capacious, and at times diffuse, but one that always returns to core concerns about the meaning, function, and future of this emerging field.

American Quarterly

Provides not only a valuable primer for any newcomer interested in exploring digital humanities, but also a detailed exploration and critique. . . Gold has managed to balance the need to provide a detailed survey of the subject with an incisive look at the complexities inherent in both the ‘making’ aspect and the ‘thinking’ aspect of digital humanities.

Information, Communication & Society

This collection of some fifty articles and blog posts by leading scholars in the field, elegantly printed, provides a rich exploration by way of self-reflection on the field as it has emerged in academic departments in the humanities, particularly in English and History, in recent years.

The Key Reporter

Gold’s anthology is absolutely the necessary starting point for those who want to catch up on debates in the field, learn about the history of digital humanities, and contemplate a future application to their art historical work. Gold should be highly commended, given that he gives us a book so far reaching but also honest about its moment.

Visual Resources

Debates in the Digital Humanities

Contents

 

Introduction: The Digital Humanities Moment

Matthew K. Gold

 

Part I. Defining the Digital Humanities

1. What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?

Matthew Kirschenbaum

2. The Humanities, Done Digitally

Kathleen Fitzpatrick

3. This Is Why We Fight: Defining the Values of the Digital Humanities

Lisa Spiro

4. Beyond the Big Tent

Patrik Svensson

 

Blog Posts

The Digital Humanities Situation

Rafael Alvarado

Where’s the Beef? Does Digital Humanities Have to Answer Questions?

Tom Scheinfeldt

Why Digital Humanities Is “Nice”

Tom Scheinfeldt

An Interview with Brett Bobley

Michael Gavin and Kathleen Marie Smith

Day of DH: Defining the Digital Humanities

 

Part II. Theorizing the Digital Humanities

5. Developing Things: Notes toward an Epistemology of Building in the Digital Humanities

Stephen Ramsay and Geoffrey Rockwell

6. Humanistic Theory and Digital Scholarship

Johanna Drucker

7. This Digital Humanities which Is Not One

Jamie “Skye” Bianco

8. A Telescope for the Mind?

Willard McCarty

 

Blog Posts

Sunset for Ideology, Sunrise for Methodology?

Tom Scheinfeldt

Has Critical Theory Run Out of Time for Data-Driven Scholarship?

Gary Hall

There Are No Digital Humanities

Gary Hall

 

Part III. Critiquing the Digital Humanities

9. Why Are the Digital Humanities So White?, or, Thinking the Histories of Race and Computation

Tara McPherson

10. Hacktivism and the Humanities: Programming Protest in the Era of the Digital University

Elizabeth Losh

11. Unseen and Unremarked On: Don DeLillo and the Failure of the Digital Humanities

Mark L. Sample

12. Disability, Universal Design, and the Digital Humanities

George H. Williams

13. The Digital Humanities and Its Users

Charlie Edwards

 

Blog Posts

Digital Humanities Triumphant?

William Pannapacker

What Do Girls Dig?

Bethany Nowviskie

The Turtlenecked Hairshirt

Ian Bogost

Eternal September of the Digital Humanities

Bethany Nowviskie

 

Part IV. Practicing the Digital Humanities

14. Canons, Close Reading, and the Evolution of Method

Matthew Wilkens

15. Electronic Errata: Digital Publishing, Open Review, and the Futures of Correction

Paul Fyfe

16. The Function of Digital Humanities Centers at the Present Time

Neil Fraistat

17. Time, Labor, and “Alternate Careers” in Digital Humanities Knowledge Work

Julia Flanders

18. Can Information Be Unfettered?:  Race and the New Digital Humanities Canon

Amy E. Earhart

 

Blog Posts

The Social Contract of Scholarly Publishing

Daniel J. Cohen

Introducing Digital Humanities Now

Daniel J. Cohen

Text: A Massively Addressable Object

Michael Witmore

The Ancestral Text

Michael Witmore

 

Part V. Teaching the Digital Humanities

19. Digital Humanities and the “Ugly-Stepchildren” of American Higher Education

Luke Waltzer

20. Graduate Education and the Ethics of the Digital Humanities

Alexander Reid

21. Should Liberal Arts Campuses Do Digital Humanities?: Process and Products in the Small College World

Bryan Alexander and Rebecca Frost Davis

22. Where’s the Pedagogy?: The Role of Teaching and Learning in the Digital Humanities

Stephen Brier

 

Blog Posts

Visualizing Millions of Words

Mills Kelly

What’s Wrong with Writing Essays

Mark L. Sample

Looking for Whitman: A Grand, Aggregated Experiment

Matthew K. Gold and Jim Groom

The Public Course Blog: The Required Reading We Write Ourselves for the Course that Never Ends

Trevor Owens

 

Part VI. Envisioning the Future of the Digital Humanities

23. Digital Humanities As/Is a Tactical Term

Matthew Kirschenbaum

24. The Digital Humanities or a Digital Humanism

Dave Parry

25. The Resistance to Digital Humanities

David Greetham

26. Beyond Metrics: Community Authorization and Open Peer Review

Kathleen Fitzpatrick

27. Trending: The Promises and the Challenges of Big Social Data

Lev Manovich

28. Humanities 2.0: Promise, Perils, Predictions

Cathy N. Davidson

29. Where Is Cultural Criticism in the Digital Humanities?

Alan Liu

 

Acknowledgments

 

Debates in the Digital Humanities

DDH_infographic

Download an infographic.

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The University of Minnesota's Institute for Advanced Study has posted video from Debates in the Digital Humanities editor Matt Gold's visit to campus.

 

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UMP blog - Representation and the digital environment: Essential challenges for humanists. By Johanna Drucker.

 

The basic challenge for humanists comes from adopting visualizations that don’t suit our fundamental epistemological values. Obviously humanism is not monolithic. But methods of statistical analysis and empirical observation are grafted onto the humanities, they were not created from within the traditions of textual analysis and study. Put simply, the distinction between humanistic and empirical methods is the difference between interpretation and scientific positivism. I have no quarrel with the latter, only with the ways visualization techniques from the natural and social sciences have been adopted for use in the humanities. The result is reductive, and in most instances, produces a reification of misinformation. Exceptions exist.

 

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