Notes from the Field

  • The Short Guide
  • by Jeffrey Schnapp
  • February 19, 2013

What Isn’t the Digital Humanities?

The Short Guide is an open excerpt from Digital_Humanities, by Anne Burdick, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, Todd Presner, Jeffrey Schnapp, MIT Press, 2012.


This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-nonComercial-ShareAlike license, available at or by mail from Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain view, California, 94041, USA. 


Questions & Answers I
Digital Humanities Fundamentals

What isn't the Digital Humanities?

The mere use of digital tools for the purpose of humanistic research and communication does not qualify as Digital Humanities. Nor, as already noted, is Digital Humanities to be understood as the study of digital artifacts, new media, or contemporary culture in place of physical artifacts, old media, or historical culture.

On the contrary, Digital Humanities understands its object of study as the entire human record, from prehistory to the present. This is why fields such as classics and archaeology have played just as important a role in the development of Digital Humanities as has, for example, media studies. This is also why some of the major sectors of Digital Humanities research extend outside the traditional core of the humanities to embrace quantitative methods from the social and natural sciences as well as techniques and modes of thinking from the arts.


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