Digital Humanities From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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  1. 1. Marco Petris

    Universität Hamburg (University of Hamburg)

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Digital humanities is an area of research and teaching at the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the
humanities . Developing from the fields of humanities computing, humanistic computing,
Humanistic Computing, Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 86, No. 11, November, 1998, Pages 2123-2151. and digital humanities praxis
digital humanities embraces a variety of topics, from curating online collections to data mining large cultural data sets. Digital humanities (often abbreviated DH) currently incorporates both digitized and
born-digital materials and combines the methodologies from traditional humanities disciplines (such as
history ,
philosophy ,
linguistics ,
literature ,
art ,
archaeology ,
music , and
cultural studies ) and social sciences

"Digital Humanities Network".
University of Cambridge. Retrieved 27 December 2012
with tools provided by
computing (such as
data visualisation ,
information retrieval ,
data mining ,
statistics ,
text mining ,
digital mapping ), and
digital publishing . As well, related subfields of digital humanities have emerged like
software studies , platform studies, and
critical code studies . Digital Humanities also intersects with
new media studies and
information science as well as
media theory of composition and
game studies , particularly in areas related to digital humanities project design and production.

Example of research which includes the use of digital methods: network analysis as an archival tool.

League of Nations archives, United Nations Office in Geneva. Network visualization and analysis published in Grandjean, Martin (2014).
"La connaissance est un réseau".
Les Cahiers du Numérique
10 (3): 37–54. Retrieved 2014-10-15.

Areas of inquiry
Digital humanities scholars use computational methods either to answer existing research questions or to challenge existing theoretical paradigms, generating new questions and pioneering new approaches. One goal is to systematically integrate computer technology into the activities of humanities scholars,

Opportunities/tabid/57/Default.aspx "Grant Opportunities".
National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Digital Humanities Grant Opportunities. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
as is done in contemporary empirical
social sciences . Such technology-based activities might include incorporation into the traditional
arts and
humanities disciplines use of text-analytic techniques;
commons-based peer collaboration ; and interactive games and
multimedia .

Despite the significant trend in digital humanities towards networked and multimodal forms of knowledge, spanning social, visual, and haptic media, a substantial amount of digital humanities focuses on documents and text in ways that differentiate the field's work from digital research in
Media studies,
Information studies,
Communication studies, and
Sociology. Another goal of digital humanities is to create scholarship than transcends textual sources. This includes the integration of
metadata and dynamic environments. An example of this is
The Valley of the Shadow project at the
University of Virginia, the
Vectors Journal of Culture and Technology in a Dynamic Vernacular at
University of Southern California or
Digital Pioneers projects at Harvard.

A growing number of researchers in digital humanities are using computational methods for the analysis of large cultural data sets such as the
Google Books corpus.
Roth, S. (2014), Fashionable functions. A Google ngram view of trends in functional differentiation (1800-2000), International Journal of Technology and Human Interaction, Band 10, Nr. 2, S. 34-58 (online:
Examples of such projects were highlighted by the Humanities High Performance Computing competition sponsored by the Office of Digital Humanities in 2008,
Bobley, Brett (December 1, 2008).
"Grant Announcement for Humanities High Performance Computing Program".
National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
and also by the Digging Into Data challenge organized in 2009

"Awardees of 2009 Digging into Data Challenge".
Digging into Data. 2009. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
and 2011

"NEH Announces Winners of 2011 Digging Into Data Challenge".
National Endowment for the Humanities. January 3, 2012. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
by NEH in collaboration with NSF,
Cohen, Patricia (2010-11-16).
"Humanities Scholars Embrace Digital Technology".
The New York Times (New York).
0362-4331. Retrieved 2012-06-07.
and in partnership with
JISC in the UK, and
SSHRC in Canada.
Williford, Christa; Henry, Charles (June 2012).
"Computationally Intensive Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences: A Report on the Experiences of First Respondents to the Digging Into Data Challenge".
Council on Library and Information Resources.

Environments and tools

Digital humanities is also involved in the creation of software, providing "environments and tools for producing, curating, and interacting with knowledge that is 'born digital' and lives in various digital contexts."
Presner, Todd (2010).
"Digital Humanities 2.0: A Report on Knowledge".
Connexions. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
In this context, the field is sometimes known as computational humanities. Many such projects share a "commitment to
open standards and
open source."
Bradley, John (2012). "No job for techies: Technical contributions to research in digital humanities". In Marilyn Deegan and Willard McCarty (eds.).
Collaborative Research in the Digital Humanities. Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate. pp. 11–26 [14].

Digital humanities descends from the field of humanities computing, of computationally enabled "formal representations of the human record,"
Unsworth, John (2002-11-08).
"What is Humanities Computing and What is not?".
Jahrbuch für Computerphilologie
4. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
whose origins reach back to the late 1940s in the pioneering work of
Roberto Busa .

Svensson, Patrik (2009).
"Humanities Computing as Digital Humanities".
Digital Humanities Quarterly
3 (3).
1938-4122. Retrieved 2012-05-30.

Hockney, Susan (2004). "The History of Humanities Computing". In Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth (eds.).

Companion to Digital Humanities
. Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture. Oxford: Blackwell.

Other aspects of digital humanities were descended from the
Intermedia project on hypertext at
Brown University in the 1980s.

Text Encoding Initiative, born from the desire to create a standard encoding scheme for humanities electronic texts, is the outstanding achievement of early humanities computing. The project was launched in 1987 and published the first full version of the
TEI Guidelines in May 1994.
Hockney, Susan (2004). "The History of Humanities Computing". In Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth (eds.).

Companion to Digital Humanities
. Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture. Oxford: Blackwell.

In the nineties, major digital text and image archives emerged at centers of humanities computing in the U.S. (e.g. the
Women Writers Project,

Women Writers Project
, Brown University, retrieved 2012-06-16
Rossetti Archive,

Jerome J. McGann (ed.),

Rossetti Archive
, Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia, retrieved 2012-06-16

The William Blake Archive

Morris Eaves, Robert Essick, and Joseph Viscomi (ed.),

The William Blake Archive
, retrieved 2012-06-16

), which demonstrated the sophistication and robustness of text-encoding for literature.
Liu, Alan (2004).
"Transcendental Data: Toward a Cultural History and Aesthetics of the New Encoded Discourse".
Critical Inquiry
31 (1): 49–84.
0093-1896. Retrieved 2012-06-16.
The Blake archive, in particular, was designed by its editors to take advantage of "the syntheses made possible by the electronic medium" and thus accomplish an "editorial transformation" in the publication of Blake's work which was, from the author's hands, multimedia.

"Editorial Principles".
The William Blake Archive. Retrieved 17 December 2014.

The terminological change from "humanities computing" to "digital humanities" has been attributed to
John Unsworth and Ray Siemens who, as editors of the monograph
A Companion to Digital Humanities (2004), tried to prevent the field from being viewed as "mere digitization."
Fitzpatrick, Kathleen (2011-05-08).
"The humanities, done digitally".
The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
Consequently, the hybrid term has created an overlap between fields like rhetoric and composition, which use "the methods of contemporary humanities in studying digital objects,"
Fitzpatrick, Kathleen (2011-05-08).
"The humanities, done digitally".
The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
and digital humanities, which uses "digital technology in studying traditional humanities objects".
Fitzpatrick, Kathleen (2011-05-08).
"The humanities, done digitally".
The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
The use of computational systems and the study of computational media within the arts and humanities more generally has been termed the 'computational turn'.
Berry, David (2011-06-01).
"The Computational Turn: Thinking About the Digital Humanities".
Culture Machine. Retrieved 2012-01-31.

In 2006 the
National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), launched the Digital Humanities Initiative (renamed Office of Digital Humanities in 2008), which made widespread adoption of the term "digital humanities" all but irreversible in the United States.
Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. (2010).
"What is Digital Humanities and What's it Doing in English Departments?".
ADE Bulletin (150).

Digital humanities emerged from its former niche status and became "big news"
Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. (2010).
"What is Digital Humanities and What's it Doing in English Departments?".
ADE Bulletin (150).
at the 2009
MLA convention in Philadelphia, where digital humanists made "some of the liveliest and most visible contributions"
Howard, Jennifer (2009-12-31).
"The MLA Convention in Translation".
The Chronicle of Higher Education.
0009-5982. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
and had their field hailed as "the first 'next big thing' in a long time."
Pannapacker, William (2009-12-28).
"The MLA and the Digital Humanities" (The Chronicle of Higher Education).
Brainstorm. Retrieved 2012-05

Organizations and Institutions

The field of digital humanities is served by several organisations:
The Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing (ALLC), the
Association for Computers and the Humanities (ACH), and the
Society for Digital Humanities/Société pour l'étude des médias interactifs (SDH/SEMI), which are joined under the umbrella organisation of the
Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO). The alliance funds a number of projects such as the
Digital Humanities Quarterly, supports the
Text Encoding Initiative, the organisation and sponsoring of workshops and conferences, as well as the funding of small projects, awards and bursaries.
Vanhoutte, Edward (2011-04-01).
Literary and Linguistic Computing
26 (1): 3–4.
10.1093/llc/fqr002. Retrieved 2011-07-11.

ADHO also oversees a joint annual conference, which began as the ACH/ALLC (or ALLC/ACH) conference, and is now known as the
Digital Humanities conference.

CenterNet is an international network of about 100 digital humanities centers in 19 countries, working together to benefit digital humanities and related fields.

CenterNet. Retrieved June 16, 2012.

Caraco, Benjamin (1 January 2012).
"Les digital humanities et les bibliothèques".
Le Bulletin des Bibliothèques de France
57 (2). Retrieved 12 April 2012.

Criticism and controversies

An edited text,
'Debates in the Digital Humanities' (2012) has identified a range of criticisms of digital humanities: 'a lack of attention to issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality; a preference for research-driven projects over pedagogical ones; an absence of political commitment; an inadequate level of diversity among its practitioners; an inability to address texts under copyright; and an institutional concentration in well-funded research universities'.

The literary theorist
Stanley Fish claims that the digital humanities pursue a revolutionary agenda and thereby undermine the conventional standards of "pre-eminence, authority and disciplinary power."
Fish, Stanley (2012-01-09).
"The Digital Humanities and the Transcending of Mortality".
The New York Times (New York). Retrieved 2012-05-30.

There has also been some recent controversy amongst practitioners of digital humanities around the role that race and/or identity politics plays in digital humanities. Tara McPherson attributes some of the lack of racial diversity in digital humanities to the modality of
UNIX and computers, themselves.

An open thread on recently garnered well over 100 comments on the issue of race in digital humanities, with scholars arguing about the amount that racial (and other) biases affect the tools and texts available for digital humanities research.

This is a current source of debate within the digital humanities.

At present, formal academic recognition of digital work in the humanities remains somewhat problematic, although there are signs that this might be changing.[

citation needed
] Some universities offer programs related to the field

"Digital Humanities Programs and Organizations". UCLA Digital Humanities. Retrieved 2 November 2014.
and some have dedicated Digital Humanities programmes.

See also



Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations


a comprehensive list of digital humanities centers

Department of Digital Humanities (King's College London, UK)

Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (University of Glasgow, Scotland)

Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (University of Virginia, USA)

Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities

Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (George Mason University, Virginia, USA)

UCL Centre for Digital Humanities (University College London, UK)

Center for Public History and Digital Humanities (Cleveland State University)


Digital Medievalist

Digital Humanities Quarterly

Literary and Linguistic Computing

Southern Spaces


Digital Humanities conference




Computers and writing

Computational archaeology


Cultural analytics

Digital Classicist

Digital Humanities Summer Institute

Digital library

Digital Medievalist

Digital history


Digital rhetoric

Digital scholarship

Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative

Electronic literature



Humanistic informatics

Multimedia literacy

New media

Systems theory


Text Encoding Initiative

Text mining

Topic Modeling



Digital humanities

External links

The Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations


A Day in the Life of the Digital Humanities

Lev Manovich, Computational Humanities vs. Digital Humanities

Beagle, Donald, (2014).

Digital Humanities in the Research Commons: Precedents & Prospects
, Association of College & Research Libraries: dh+lib.

Berry, D. M., ed. (2012).

Understanding Digital Humanities
, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Burdick, Anne, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, Todd Presner, & Jeffrey Schnap (2012).

, The MIT Press

Busa, Roberto (1980). ‘The Annals of Humanities Computing: The Index Thomisticus’, in Computers and the Humanities vol. 14, pp. 83–90. Computers and the Humanities (1966-2004)
Celentano, A., Cortesi, A. & Mastandrea, P. (2004). Informatica Umanistica: una disciplina di confine, Mondo Digitale, vol. 4, pp. 44–55.
Classen, Christoph, Kinnebrock, Susanne, & Löblich, Maria, eds. (2012).
Towards Web History: Sources, Methods, and Challenges in the Digital Age.

Historical Social Research

, 37 (4), 97-188.

Condron Frances, Fraser, Michael & Sutherland, Stuart, eds. (2001).

Oxford University Computing Services Guide to Digital Resources for the Humanities
, West Virginia University Press.

Fitzpatrick, Kathleen (2011).

Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy
. New York; NYU Press.

Gold, Matthew K., ed. (2012).

Debates In the Digital Humanities
. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Hancock, B., & Giarlo, M.J. (2001).

Moving to XML: Latin texts XML conversion project at the Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities
. Library Hi Tech, 19(3), 257-264.

Hockey, Susan (2001).
Electronic Text in the Humanities: Principles and Practice, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Honing, Henkjan (2008).

The role of ICT in music research: A bridge too far?
International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing
, 1 (1), 67-75.

Inman James, Reed, Cheryl, & Sands, Peter, eds. (2003).
Electronic Collaboration in the Humanities: Issues and Options, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Kenna, Stephanie & Ross, Seamus, eds. (1995).
Networking in the humanities: Proceedings of the Second Conference on Scholarship and Technology in the Humanities held at Elvetham Hall, Hampshire, UK 13–16 April 1994. London: Bowker-Saur.

Kirschenbaum, Matthew (2008).

Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination
. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

McCarty, Willard (2005).
Humanities Computing, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Moretti, Franco (2007).

Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History
. New York: Verso.

Mullings, Christine, Kenna, Stephanie, Deegan, Marilyn, & Ross, Seamus, eds. (1996).
New Technologies for the Humanities London: Bowker-Saur.

Newell, William H., ed. (1998).
Interdisciplinarity: Essays from the Literature. New York: College Entrance Examination Board.

Nowviskie, Bethany, ed. (2011).

Alt-Academy: Alternative Academic Careers for Humanities Scholars
. New York: MediaCommons.

Ramsay, Steve (2011).

Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism
. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Schreibman, Susan, Siemens, Ray & Unsworth, John, eds. (2004).

A Companion To Digital Humanities
Blackwell Publishers.

Selfridge-Field, Eleanor, ed. (1997). Beyond MIDI: The Handbook of Musical Codes. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
Thaller, Manfred, ed. (2012).
Controversies around the Digital Humanities.

Historical Social Research
, 37 (3), 7-229.

Unsworth, John (2005).

Scholarly Primitives: What methods do humanities researchers have in common, and how might our tools reflect this?

Warwick C., Terras, M., & Nyhan, J., eds. (2012).
Digital Humanities in Practice, Facet

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Conference Info

In review

ADHO - 2019

Hosted at Utrecht University

Utrecht, Netherlands

July 9, 2019 - July 12, 2019

436 works by 1162 authors indexed

Series: ADHO (14)

Organizers: ADHO