What is Digital Humanities?

Digital humanities could be considered the study of how technology evolves through the research and engagement of humans, though a concrete definition of the field is difficult to describe. It includes both digital objects and objects that are “born-digital”. In his essay, “What Is Digital Humanities and What’s It doing in English Departments?”, Matt Kirschenbaum explains digital humanities through several definitions. He mentions that the subject of digital humanities has become more rooted in English than any other department. Kirschenbaum names some books about digital humanities, such as the Companion to Digital Humanities, Topics in the Digital Humanities, and a journal called Digital Humanities Quarterly. He informs us of how popular the digital humanities field has become. He also includes a definition from Wikipedia, which has been viewed by people who have been contributors in the DH world. Kirschenbaum agrees with this definition, which states that digital humanities is a field of study that is concerned with the intersections of computing and humanities, involves information in electronic form, and studies how media affect the disciplines where they are used.

Digital humanities involves research of growing technology and digital objects. People involved in the DH field study digital platforms in order to enhance the experience of a large audience. Along with research, the creation of digital objects is a major part of digital humanities.  The data that is found through research can be used to create engaging digital objects, along with being used to make information more accessible and easier to navigate through.


Kirschenbaum mentions several tools that are useful in the world of digital humanities. Voyeur (or Voyant), for example, is a text-analysis tool created by Stephan Sinclair. This is a mining tool that does things such as visualizing word frequencies or pointing out key terms in a work. He also brings up projects such as the Text Encoding Initiative and the Orlando Project. The Text Encoding Initiative  is “a consortium which collectively develops and maintains a standard for the representation of texts in digital form.” Kirschenbaum points  out projects like these as examples of how DH is a social undertaking, creating the opportunity for people in the field to work together, share research, compete, and collaborate with each other. The Orlando Project is another example of a social undertaking by digital humanists. Their website describes the project as “an ongoing collaborative experiment in the use of computers to engage in women’s literary history.” It’s projects like these that make the DH world so interesting, which are both viewed as important achievements in the community.  Digital humanities is a unique field that involves creation, research, and the archiving of creations, making it a versatile subject that is constantly changing as new technology is discovered and  continues to evolve.


One thought on “What is Digital Humanities?

  1. Good post. I like the examples you gave as well as the definitions. The only thing I really have to suggest is to give readers a few pictures of examples of what you are mentioning as well as to break all the examples up into smaller paragraphs. Also, very good conclusion at the end about what Digital Humanities involves


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