A Definition of Digital Humanities

My personal definition of digital humanities centers on the critical use of new/emerging technological tools and methods in conjunction with both traditional and new/emerging objects, questions, methods, and practices of the humanities. It is transformative but also complimentary; digital humanities is joined by a both/and rather than an or. It encompasses research (including publishing), teaching, and learning. It is frequently done in institutions of higher education but it is not limited to them, and indeed the questions around institutionalization raised by Terras in her blog post are not outside its concerns, because questions of access, knowledge production, disciplinary boundaries, and inequity are also the object of humanistic inquiry.  Alvarado’s description of digital humanities as “a genealogy, a network of family resemblances among provisional school of thought, methodological interests and preferred tools” and his emphasis on praxis is the closest to my own understanding of the term. His emphasis on a critical approach to the tools of digital humanities is also key to my definition, as I spend much time pushing against technological utopianism in my own field of librarianship. Digital humanities does not reveal the truth about the social world and human experience but adds other ways of analyzing, interpreting, and finally understanding them.

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