What is DH?


A Work in Progress


Defining digital humanities is problematic as definitions are widely contested, thus, this blog-post is a work in progress to document definitions that are offered by various scholars and digital humanists. It is hoped that by documenting different definitions in one space, this will assist me to synthesise the various schools of thought, and so, provide me with a better understanding of the debates in question.


Golumbia observes how definitions of Digital Humanities alternate according to situation. He notes that a “narrow” definition consigns it to “tools-and-archives”, and is an “influential definition with regard to funding and hiring.” Otherwise, he claims that the definition embraces the “Big Tent” analogy and is surmised as “anything that combines digital work of any sort with humanities work of any sort” (“‘Digital Humanities’: Two Definitions”, italics in the original).

  • David Golumbia is Assistant Professor in the Department of English and the MATX (Media, Art, and Text) PhD program at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Similar, to Golumbia, Stephen Ramsey also contends that “there are really two definitions of dh being bandied about.” However, Ramsay offers a simple historiography of how this has come about. (“DH Types One and Two”)

Risam and Koh contend that “postcolonial digital humanities” can trace its emergence as an academic field to the 1990s, with the creation of websites by  Deepika Bahri and George Landow, “such as “Postcolonial Studies at Emory” (original version) and “The Postcolonial Literature and Culture Web.’” While they acknowledge that definitions of digital humanities are contested, they offer their working definition as “a set of methodologies engaged by humanists to use, produce, teach, and analyze culture and technology” (“Mission Statement”).

Scott Weingart suggests: “While what often sets the digital humanities apart from its analog counterpart is the distant reading, the macroanalysis” and the willingness to “intersperse the distant with the close, attempting to reintroduce the individual into the aggregate” (“The moral role of DH in a data-driven world”).

  • Weingart works at the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, and doing a Ph.D. with a focus on history of science in Indiana University.




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