• The Short Guide
  • by Jeffrey Schnapp
  • February 2, 2013
What is the Digital Humanities?

Questions & Answers I
Digital Humanities Fundamentals


What is the Digital Humanities?


Digital Humanities refers to new modes of scholarship and institutional units for collaborative, trans-disciplinary, and computationally engaged research, teaching, and publication.


Digital Humanities is less a unified field than an array of convergent practices that explore a universe in which print is no longer the primary medium in which knowledge is produced and disseminated.


Digital tools, techniques, and media have expanded traditional concepts of knowledge in the arts, humanities and social sciences, but Digital Humanities is not solely “about” the digital (in the sense of limiting its scope to the study of digital culture). Nor is Digital Humanities only “about” the humanities as traditionally understood since it argues for a remapping of traditional practices. Rather, Digital Humanities is defined by the opportunities and challenges that arise from the conjunction of the term digital with the term humanities to form a new collective singular.


The opportunities include redrawing the boundary lines among the humanities, the social sciences, the arts, and the natural sciences; expanding the audience and social impact of scholarship in the humanities; developing new forms of inquiry and knowledge production and reinvigorating ones that have fallen by the wayside; training future generations of humanists through hands-on, project-based learning as a complement to classroom-based learning; and developing practices that expand the scope, enhance the quality, and increase the visibility of humanistic research.


The challenges include addressing fundamental questions such as: How can skills traditionally used in the humanities be reshaped in multimedia terms? How and by whom will the contours of cultural and historical memory be defined in the digital era? How might practices such as digital storytelling coincide with or diverge from oral or print-based storytelling? What is the place of humanitas in a networked world?


Coming soon: What defines the Digital Humanities Now?  


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