Digital Humanities

Digital humanities is a very general term covering an increasingly broad and deep array of practices that use digital technology in the teaching, researching, producing and disseminating of cultural texts, scholarship and cultural information. CulturalPolitics.Net is itself a digital humanities project.

Since there is little agreement as to precisely what constitutes Digital Humanities, I direct you, digitally, to What is Digital Humanities? This site offers a wide array of definitions, from very serious to usefully playful, that change each time you refresh the page.

New media technologies are transforming the nature of literary and cultural texts, scholarly work in the arts and human sciences, and the relation of scholarship and pedagogy to the wider social world. The activities and methodologies under the rubric of digital humanities range from electronic archiving to textual digitalization and analysis to software creation for scholarship and teaching to new modes of pedagogy to the creation of new kinds of cultural texts to projects that actively intervene to transform broad cultural landscapes.

At a time when the practical relevancy of the humanities is being questioned by certain short-sighted people, digital humanities work demonstrates just how deeply the impact of the arts and human sciences can be on wider communities. Vast numbers of cultural texts and vast amounts of vital cultural information is being preserved and made available to previously unreachable audiences through digital humanities work.

As Karen Davis frames it, "Digital Humanities scholarship is not merely the content of traditional humanistic scholarship translated into new media nor the methods of traditional humanistic scholarship transferred to new content. It is the synthesis of traditional humanistic inquiry and computing technologies by which such inquiry is expanded and deepened in ways it could not have been without that technology."

The information below begins with texts surveying the wide array of objects, methods and projects found under the digital humanities rubric, and then focuses on critical digital humanities, on work that explicitly engages the process of bringing about cultural enrichment and positive social change for marginalized communities within and outside of academe. Some have sought to isolate or insulate digital humanities from the allied field of new media studies, but the full development of a critical digital humanities requires far more interaction across that false border. The links below frequently expose the falsity of that distinction.

Digital Humanities has a sometimes deserved reputation for being overly focused on technological means to the neglect of cultural theory and sociopolitical contexts. Critical Digital Humanities names work that avoids those errors, and instead emphasizes that the technology needs to be deployed in the service of theoretically informed, socio-culturally progressive projects.

As befits the goal of socially conscious DH work, much of the material below is available online for free.

Introductions to Digital Humanities

Some Key DH Research and Resource Sites

Selected Additional Books, Articles Journals and Sites

Ayers, Edward L.. "The Pasts and Futures of Digital History." Virginia Center for Digital History.

Becker, Jonathan. “Scholar 2.0: Public Intellectualism Meets the Open Web.” UCEA Review 52.2 (2011): 17-19.

Berry, David M. Critical Theory and the Digital. London: Bloomsbury 2014.

---. “Critical Digital Humanities.”

---. "The Computational Turn."

Best, Stephen, and Sharon Marcus. 2009. “Surface Reading: An Introduction.” Representations 108.1: 1–21.

Blas, Zach. Queer Technologies Art projects and reflections on the queering of technologies.

Bogost, Ian, and Nick Montfort. Platform Studies: Frequently Questioned Answers.

Borgman, Christine. Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007.

Brown, John Seely and Douglas Thomas. A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. CreateSpace, 2011.

Buzzetti, Dino. “Digital Representation and the Text Model.” New Literary History 33.1 (2002): 61-88.

Cohen, Dan. “The Ivory Tower and the Open Web: Burritos, Browsers, and Books.” Dan (July 26, 2011).

Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong. Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005.

---.Programmed Visions: Software and Memory. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2011.

Critical Code Studies 2010 Conference proceedings videos. See esp. pieces by Chun and McPherson.

The Dark Side of the Digital Resource site stemming from a conference of the same name dedicated to critiquing politically regressive uses of digital technologies.

Darnton, Robert. “Google and the Future of Books.” The New York Review of Books 56. 2 (February 12, 2009).

Davidson, Cathy N. Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn. NY: Penguin, 2011. Wide ranging analysis of impact of digitization on minds and cultures.

Derrida, Jacques. Archive Fever trans. by Eric Prenowitz. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1998.

"Digital Humanities 2.0: A Manifesto"

Drucker, Johanna. Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2014. Vital work on the need to rethink and retool knowledge visualization from within a critical digital humanities perspective.

---. SpecLab: Digital Aesthetics and Projects in Speculative Computing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009. Rich detailing of experimental efforts to create specifically humanities-based digital analytic tools.

Earhart, Amy and Dr. Andrew Jewell. The American Literature Scholar in the Digital Age. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2010. See especially articles by Stephanie P. Browner, and Timothy B. Powell et al.

Eyers, Tom. "The Perils of the Digital Humanities: New Positivisms and the Fate of Literary Theory." Postmodern Culture 23.2 (January 2013).

Fitzpatrick, Kathleen. Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy. MediaCommons 2009. Predicts major changes in the nature of scholarship in an increasingly digital era.

Flanders, Julia. “The Productive Unease of 21st Century Digital Scholarship.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 3.3. (Summer 2009).

Fuller, Mathew. Software Studies: A Lexicon. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008.

Galloway, Alexander R. and Eugene Thacker. The Exploit: A Theory of Networks. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press, 2007. An important theory of the radically disruptive use of tech that goes beyond more limited forms of hacktivism.

Gitelman, LIsa, ed. 'Raw Data' is an Oxymoron. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013. Brilliant critique of naive approaches to data stemming from positivisms.

Gleick, James. “Books and Other Fetish Objects.” The New York Times July 16, 2011.

Grusin, Mark. "The Dark Side of the Digital Humanities."

Hayles, N. Katherine. How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1999.

---. “How We Read: Close, Hyper, Machine.” ADE Bulletin150 (2010): 62-79.

---. How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012.

---. My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2005.

---. “Print Is Flat, Code Is Deep: The Importance of Media-Specific Analysis.” Poetics Today 25.1 (2004): 67–90.

Hayles, N. Katherine, and Jessica Pressman, eds. Comparative Textual Media: Transforming the Humanities in the Postprint Era. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2013.

Kirschenbaum, Matthew. Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012. Major work on the material bases of digital textuality.

---. “What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?” ADE Bulletin 150 (2010): 1-7.

---. "What Is 'Digital Humanities,' and Why Are They Saying Such Terrible Things about It?." differences 25.1 (2014): 46-63.

Latour, Bruno, and Tomas Sanchez-Criado. “Making the ‘Res Public’.” Ephemera 7.2 (2007): 364–371.

Latour, Bruno, and Peter Weibel. Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005.

Losh, Elizabeth. "Hacktivism and the Humanities: Programming Protest in the Era of the Digital University." in Debates in the Digital Humanities..

Liu, Alan. “Where is Cultural Criticism in Digital Humanities?”

Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media. Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 2001

---. Software Takes Command.London: Bloomsbury, 2013

McGann, Jerome J. “Culture and Technology: The Way We Live Now, What Is to Be Done?” New Literary History 36.1 (2005): 71–82.

McGann, Jerome, ed. Online Humanities Scholarship: The Shape of Things to Come. Connexions/Rice UP, 2010.

McPherson, Tara. "Why are the Digital Humanities so White?" in Debates in the Digital Humanities.

Parry, David. "The University and the Future of Knowledge." Video.

Presner, Todd. "Critical Theory and the Mangle of Digital Humanities."

Raley, Rita. Tactical Media. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2009. Rich analyses of a host of aesthetico-political acts of digital resistance by groups like Critical Art Ensemble and Electronic Disturbance Theatre.

Rockwell, Geoffrey. “What is Text Analysis, Really?” Literary and Linguistic Computing 18.2 (2003): 209-220.

Spiro, Lisa. “Getting Started in the Digital Humanities.” Journal of Digital Humanities 1.1 (Winter 2011).

Svensson, Patrik. “The Landscape of Digital Humanities.” Digital Humanities Quarterly 4.1 (Summer 2010).

Werner, Sarah. “Fetishizing Books and Textualizing the Digital.” (July 24, 2011).

Critical Digital Humanities Projects: A sampling of the wide variety of work underway