What are the “Digital Humanities?”

A key component of coursework for History 671 is students’ creation of a digital exhibit about the history of the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.  Digital tools offer us the opportunity to create a meaningful public history project in the course of a single semester.

The term “digital humanities” is broadly applied to various projects within a rapidly evolving field of intellectual inquiry. Generally, digital humanities projects augment conventional humanities scholarship with digital technologies. According to the Wikipedia article on digital humanities, “[o]ne of the goals of the digital humanities is to understand scholarly documents as more than texts and papers. This includes the integration of multimedia, metadata and dynamic environments. A dynamic scholarly document would no longer resemble a linear narrative.”

Rather than the traditional, single-author work of scholarship, digital humanities projects are often collaborative, and invite participation and integration between information and ideas from multiple sources. They take previously available documents and information, and use digital technologies to analyze this information or present it in new ways.  Often, digital humanities projects will “mash up” information from several sources, synthesizing in order to better illustrate a historical period, set of ideas, or social condition.  Geospatial digital projects, which take advantage of new technologies to present historical materials in space as well as time, are one exciting new area with great promise for historical understanding.

Essays about Digital Humanities and Digital History

Becoming a “Digital Scholar”

This is an essay on the evolving field of digital humanities.  Written in friendly non-academic language, it provides an easy introduction to the complex issues related to scholarly digital work.   It is loaded with links to other projects, websites, videos and blogs, which means this essay itself is offering a real life example of digital scholarly work.

Beyond GIS: Geospatial Resources and Services for Scholars in the Humanities

A good introduction from 2008 to many available tools and resources for digital humanities.

CUNY Digital Humanities Resource Guide

A collaboratively produced introduction to the field of Digital Humanities.

Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web by Daniel J. Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig (UPenn Press, 2005)

Full text online:  http://chnm.gmu.edu/digitalhistory/index.php

Book by two of the leading lights in digital history, who are (or were, in Rosenzweig’s case, as he is now dead) based at the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University.

Digital Humanities: Introduction to the Field

Prof. Alan Liu’s graduate course on digital humanities at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Fall 2013.

Digital Humanities Now

“Showcases the scholarship and news of interest to the digital humanities community, through a process of aggregation, discovery, curation, and review.”

The Differences between Digital History and Digital Humanities

Stephen Robertson of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media thinks about the specific opportunities that the digital revolution has created for the interpretation of history.

Getting Started in the Digital Humanities

Lisa Spiro’s excellent overview of approaches and examples–a real, practical “how-to” guide for getting started in DH work.

How Did They Make That?

Miriam Posner’s really great page of resources for students on “what they might do and what technical skills they might need in order to do it.”  This set of resources helps to connect front-end digital humanities outcomes with the behind-the-scenes tools needed to build them.

Interchange: The Promise of Digital History

This is a forum specifically focused on what the digital revolution means for history.  It was originally published in the Journal of American History (Vol. 95, No. 2, Spring 2008, pp. 442-51) and features Daniel J. Cohen, Michael Frisch, Patrick Gallagher, Steven Mintz, Kirsten Sword, Amy Murrell Taylor, William G. Thomas III, and William J. Turkel.

Journal of Digital Humanities

“A comprehensive, peer-reviewed, open-access journal that features the best scholarship, tool, and conversations produced by the digital humanities community in the previous quarter.”

National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities

Source of federal grant funding for digital humanities projects.

Online Historical Resources: A Study in Difference in Presentation

This one, about different ways of presenting resources, is a little more academic.

UNC-Chapel Hill Projects and Resources

Digital History Projects Based Elsewhere

Digital Repositories Useful for Research

Tools and Apps

Practical How-to Resources

Other Resources

Some resources from the 2010 NEH-sponsored Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship, hosted by the Scholars Lab at the University of Virginia Libraries. Anne Whisnant attended this Institute in May 2010.

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