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What defines the big tent digital humanities is I think a key question that we really do need to answer. The other day a taxonomy for the digital humanities. Starting out, I thought it would be an easy and fun adventure, but after many tries at the white board creating nodal maps, I quickly found it too painful to finish. Obviously, the digital humanities methods taxonomy produced by King’s College ( is a possible way to go and is an excellent guide for grouping how we go about doing what we do, but it really solves no problems for us since the applications of the methods could be in any discipline whether humanities or not.

Although I do know some folks who call themselves digital humanists whose primary work has not been in traditional disciplinary scholarship but on developing methods in network analysis, scholarly communication, or HCI, for example, particularly in area of writing studies. Part of the problem, of course, is not our dh tent but the vagaries and vicissitudes of the humanities in the academy (particularly in US institutions). Is history a humanities discipline or a social science? Can doing 3d modeling with an anthropologist (who sees herself as a scientist) be considered digital humanities work? Is a project with a natural history museum digital humanities? Is a project conducted by computer scientists working with a large store of historical audio a digital humanities project? That is, do we define digital humanities by the content of the project or by the participation of a person credentialized by an institution as a “humanist”?  I don’t have a good answer to this.

Published in blog digital humanities


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