Editors’ Choice: Digital Humanities as a Literary Studies Movement(?): Editors’ Choice Round-up

By Ted Underwood, Feisal G. Mohamed, and Marc Santos | January 4, 2012

Editors’ Note: Over the last week, the position of Digital Humanities within literary studies has been discussed by a number of scholars in advance of the annual MLA meeting. Several posts are linked below, and please tweet or email us with any suggestions.

Ted Underwood, “Why digital humanities isn’t actually “the next thing in literary studies,” December 27, 2011

  • DH is not the kind of trend humanists are used to, which starts with a specific methodological insight and promises to revive a discipline (or two) by generalizing that insight. It’s something more diffuse, and the diffuseness matters….. I suppose, if pressed, I would say “digital humanities” is the name of an opportunity. Technological change has made some of the embodiments of humanistic work — media, archives, institutions, perhaps curricula — a lot more plastic than they used to be. That could turn out to be a good thing or a bad thing. But it’s neither of those just yet: the meaning of the opportunity is going to depend on what we make of it.” Read Full Post Here.

Feisal G. Mohamed,”Can There Be a Digital Humanism?” December 28, 2011

  • Here’s where I get troubled: digital humanities projects often say that they are innovating the way we investigate texts and cultures, though that innovation, as Ted notes, arises from a set of technological tools rather than an intellectual position. And when at their most excited, “digital humanists” can sometimes claim to be transforming humanistic study itself. Read Full Post Here.

Marc Santos,”Digital Humanities,” December 29, 2011

  • I think there’s two basic genealogies to digital humanities/technology studies. Reductive? Sure. But helpful. The first traces back to Heidegger’s “Question Concerning Technology.”….The second traces back to McLuhan. Read Full Post Here.

Multiple Authors, “Digital Humanities: Whence, Wherefore, and Why?,” December 29-30, 2011

  • Alex Reid, “I do think that that the core definition of DH is dissolving. The Fish piece, for good or bad, shows how an outsider to DH imagines it as this expansive business. I think this is commonplace. The folks at the DH conference may have a more narrow view, but elsewhere that it less and less the case. Those of us who have been doing computers and writing, digital rhetoric, technical communication, etc. need to decide whether we want to adopt the DH term and expand it to include us or insist that we are separate but equal.” Read Full Conversation Here.

Ted Underwood,”A Brief Outburst About Numbers,” January 3, 2012

  • None of this is to say that we can simply borrow tools or methods from scientists unchanged. The humanities have a lot to add — especially when it comes to the social and historical character of human behavior. I think there are fascinating advances taking place in data science right now. But when you take apart the analytic tools that computer scientists have designed, you often find that they’re based on specific mistaken assumptions about the social character of language. Read Full Post Here.