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Editors’ Choice: Digital Humanities and Theory Round-Up Part 2

Editors’ Note:

The conversation about theory and the digital humanities highlighted in the Theory Round-up last Friday has continued into this week. We’ve added the most recent posts to this list. Please Tweet @dhnow if you have more to suggest. *updated at 3:30pm EST*


Trevor Owens, Please Write it Down: Design and Research in the Digital Humanities, November 11, 2011

  • “What I see as the key issue to think through here is not so much should Digital Humanists also need to “re-encode” their work in writing. Reflective designers of all stripes are already doing a lot of writing. They are creating documentation, making wireframes, etc. The question here is what kinds of writing should humanities scholars who design software and make things in code be doing.” Read Full Post Here.

Multiple Participants, Translation, Communication, Code Twitter Conversation, November 11, 2011

  • “Are coders obliged to explain themselves? If not, why not? And if so, is it an epistemological obligation, an ethical one, or merely a practical one? Tom Scheinfeldt initiated the Twitter discussion, following Patrick Murray-John’s post ‘Theory, DH, and Noticing.'” Read Twitter Conversation Here.

Patrick Murray-John, Theory, DH, and Noticing, November 10, 2011

  • “I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say that to do theory in/on DH one needs to learn to code or design a database. But one does need some training to be able to start noticing the difference between two data models that at surface appear to describe the same things. And, coders should be ready to learn what useful things theorists can offer that, despite a first appearance of scope creep, might just be valuable things to consider building into the code” Read Full Post Here.

Joe Grobenly, On Theory and Blowing Open the Doors , November 9, 2011

  • The beauty of the humanities is that they allow for a reversal of the scientific method, which as Benjamin Schmidt points out, can lead to charges of “confirmation bias,” which is only really a concern if “objectivity” was what you were shooting for in the first place. In reality, humanists are in a luxury position of being able to create and analyze texts in the same motion, and work best to examine all of the human underpinnings of them. I think this creates a large problem for humanist librarians, espcially as we try and operate in the field now called “library science.” Read Full Post Here.

Elijah Meeks, The Digital Humanities as Thunderdome, November 5, 2011

  • “I love Gephi, that’s obvious, but it isn’t built for humanists because nothing is truly built for humanists, the closest we can get is something built by humanists.  If you don’t know what a tool is doing and that your work is being extruded through it, then you’re in real trouble.  I’m a bit concerned at how humanities scholars show a willingness to defer to tools, but I’m more concerned about how they can positively surrender to tool builders.” Read Full Post Here.

Alexis Lothian, Mixed metaphors, marked bodies, and the question of “theory”, November 4, 2011

  • “Part of the conversation about how we make theory has to be a conversation about which forms of theory-rich making are recognized and institutionally supported and which are not; about whether there are clear cut lines between digital humanities scholarship, digital media art, and digital media everyday practice, other than the question of where the funding comes from.” Read Full Post Here.

Roger Whitson, THATCamp Theory Bunnies, November 4, 2011

  • “I think this back and forth about theory as a weapon versus theory as a bunny is precisely the conversation that needs to be happening. Is it possible to create an environment where theory is embraced in a collaborative and creative manner? Can library staff and developers not traditionally “trained” in theory but who nevertheless engage in political and cultural critique in their projects everyday teach devotees of Derrida and Foucault a thing or two about differance or disciplinary regimes? Could THATCamp Theory turn theoretical weapons into cute, fuzzy, hugging bunnies?” Read Full Post Here.

Natalia Cecire: American Nerds Go to THATCamp, November 3, 2011

  • “But one concern continues to resurface in all of these posts, as well as in the Twitter conversation around my initial post, namely that theory, too, can be a site of power, one that has played all too well with the academic star system in the past, leaving people who now greatly benefit from DH (junior academics, people at teaching-oriented institutions, geographically peripheral institutions) in the cold.” Read Full Post Here.

Jean Bauer: Who You Calling Untheoretical?, November 3, 2011

  • “When we create these systems we bring our theoretical understandings to bear on our digital projects including (but not limited to) decisions about: controlled vocabulary (or the lack thereof), search algorithms, interface design, color palettes, and data structure.” Read Full Post Here.

Ben Schmidt: Theory First, November 3, 2011

  • “The promise and danger of the digital is that it lets us displace these texts, even though though by only a hair’s breadth, out of the systems of the past. Where we want to put it: that’s the question. Digital humanities would be a disaster if it simply rewrote our cultural heritage to fit neatly into present categories. That’s why we need theory, which is all about reconfiguring the way we look at the world in terms of difficult to see structures that mask the truth: systems and lifeworld, doxa and habitus. There’s a powerful significance there, and we need it.” Read Full Post Here.

Amanda Phillips: #transformDH – A Call to Action Following ASA 2011, October 26, 2011

  • “It’s starting to feel like we’re reaching a critical mass of people who are ready to see the “Digital Humanities” (used here in the most expansive sense possible) begin to diversify itself in terms of inclusion, approaches, theorization, and application to social justice issues.” Read Full Post Here.

Ted Underwood: On Transitive and Intransitive Uses of the Word ‘theorize’, October 25, 2011

  • “Because digital approaches make it possible to ask and answer different kinds of questions, there’s going to be a reciprocal interaction between humanistic goals and digital methods, not, as Cecire puts it, a “merely paratactic, additive concatenation.” We’re going to need to theorize about methods and goals at the same time. Together. Intransitively.” Read Full Post Here.

Roger Whitson: Hacking THATCamp Theory, October 23, 2011

  • “I feel that we shouldn’t use THATCamp to create yet another philosophical or theoretical meditation on technology; we get that enough from academic conferences and (especially) books. THATCamp Theory should turn the theoretical texts we know and love into alien sandboxes for technological and collaborative creativity.” Read Full Post Here.

Natalia Cecire: When DH was in Vogue; or THATCamp Theory, October 19, 2011

  • “And so far, despite the best of intentions, DH has not done a good job of theorizing either that disciplinary shift or its political implications—let alone “what is an author.” That’s why I think we should probably get over that aversion to “yack.” It doesn’t have to replace “hack”; the two are not antithetical.” Read Full Post Here.

This content was selected for Digital Humanities Now by Editor-in-Chief based on nominations by Editors-at-Large: