What is DH?

So the question of the first week is what is DH? That is a great question. Coming into this class I wasn’t so sure myself. Intro to Digital Humanities sounded cool, and it looked a lot better than some of the other classes offered this semester. After doing some reading, I began to understand what all DH consisted of, and it all made sense. I just never really used the term Digital Humanities.

After reading the Intro and Part 1 of Debates I found some answers as well as clarification on what DH is, or at least what DH consists of. Here is what I gathered from the reading. Digital Humanities in fact is made up of a ton of different topics, categories, and things. What is involved in the study of Digital Humanities consists of a variety of topics. DH is the study and research, the teaching and computing of certain knowledge. DH is also driven by the many types of social media. In fact, many of us do not realize it but things we have in our everyday lives falls into the category of DH. DH is also; “history, musicology, performance studies, media studies,” and so much more. I think that maybe DH is just a name for one category that a lot things fit into.

I never really thought about what DH consisted of until I began this class. As a teacher, I realize that I have it all around me everyday. The one point made in Part 1 was that composition and computers go together. Electronic archives and electronic literature are becoming more and more popular and everything else is becoming part of the past. DH can expand cultural studies because of the electronic and online resources.

Social Media, texting and technology are constantly changing. The more advanced technology gets, the more advanced society becomes. It is a constant race to have the “newer, smarter” phone, tablet, laptop, and even car. Even though technology is changing, it will still always be in the category of DH.The more digital the world is, the faster, and usually better things will be. The times of reading a book, and actually hand writing letters and papers are becoming more and more things of the past. Welcome to the digital world.

5 thoughts on “What is DH?”

  1. Something that came to mind as I was reading the text was that DH is its own entity, but DH is also starting to infiltrate into other areas of academia. In the introduction, DH, to me, was portrayed as a result of change; some scholars are embracing the change, and some are turning the other way, leaving DH to exist on its own. I liked the idea Ramsey presented in the introduction, and later Fitzpatrick in her article, when he declared that DH was about building and creating, and scholars can’t just study it and critique it. I thought this brought about an interesting perspective on DH that I had not considered. What most interested me in DH was the description of the speed. I always associate academia with long-term research and data collected over time; however, DH is unique in that it is a speedy process because the digital world is constantly changing and being reinvented. In Part 1, Matthew Kirschenbaum touches on social media, and I can’t help but admit that my students’ lives revolve around the concept. (The sooner I embrace this…the better). In fact, I find myself relating discussions, characters, and concepts to social media in one way or another to make ideas interesting to them. Connecting these ideas made me realize that DH is very important, and, as Sarah said, it has been a part of my life for a very long time with me even realizing it.

    1. Wow, it’s the Sara and Sarah show. Good stuff. Sara, very important point about the speed with which DH moves. No waiting years for articles and such; a lot of times, it goes by the speed of Twitter, which is DHers’ preferred mode of communication (here’s a guide to scholarly twittering: http://goo.gl/i3vBNm). I’m working on a post, to come out in the next few days, that plays more with that theme in a different way: Not only is DH fast, but most DH stuff is also ephemeral in ways that other scholarship isn’t, and that means we’re going to have to think of it in a different way. How, I’m not sure yet.

  2. Sarah, I like your point about DH being capacious and sprawling, which it certainly is. That said, if I were reading this post, I’m not sure that I’d get a sense of what the boundaries are. And I definitely agree that Dh can be practiced in many fields, as you noted.

    That is, is anything computerized necessarily DH? For example, would a database of DNA sequences qualify as DH? Or a facebook post? Or is there something about what questions are asked and how? This is a difficult question that we struggle with, and I’m more of the “big-tent” camp than the “it-must-involve-lots-of-coding-by-specialists” camp, but are there, say, criteria you would use to give us a sense of what DH is? In other words, if your cousin asked you what DH is and isn’t, how would we answer that?

    1. I feel like reading Part 1 lead to so many debates in my head about what DH really is and where the boundaries can be drawn! It’s so unlike anything I have studied before. I’m anxious to hear how Sarah answers!

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