Skip to Main Content

Digital Humanities at the University of Memphis

What is Digital Humanities?

Via Duke University Libraries

Although the term “digital humanities” has been floating around for over a decade, a precise definition is difficult to pin down. In fact, debates over how to describe the field and mark its borders predate the label itself. Still some sort of definition is needed to move forward, so many DH-related books and journals settle on working definitions while acknowledging that a static definition can’t fully explain the nuances of an evolving field of study. Here are excerpts from several working definitions of DH that serve to illustrate the diverse and dynamic nature of the field:

  • “At its core digital humanities is more akin to a common methodological outlook than an investment in any one specific set of texts or even technologies…. Yet digital humanities is also a social undertaking. It harbors networks of people who have been working together, sharing research, arguing, competing, and collaborating for many years.... a culture that values collaboration, openness, nonhierarchical relations, and agility” - Matthew G. Kirschenbaum in his article “What Is Digital Humanities and What's It Doing in English Departments?”
  • “The phrase Digital Humanities… describes not just a collective singular but also the humanities in the plural, able to address and engage disparate subject matters across media, language, location, and history. But, however heterogeneous, the Digital Humanities is unified by its emphasis on making, connecting, interpreting, and collaborating” - Digital_Humanities by Anne Burdick, Johanna Drucker, Peter Lunenfeld, Todd Presner, Jeffrey Schnapp
  • “DH values collaboration, plurality, investigation of human culture, and the disruption of and reflection on traditional practices and is concerned with not just the use of digital technology for humanities projects but how the use of digital technology for humanities projects changes the user’s experience.” - THATCamp LAC 2012 (This definition was arrived at collaboratively during the conference in a "Glossary of the Digital Humanities" Google doc)

Exploring and Investigating Digital Humanities