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Humanist Archives: Nov. 3, 2019, 6:03 a.m. Humanist 33.370 - what is digital humanities?

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 370.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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        Date: 2019-11-01 13:43:29+00:00
        From: savoye@eapoe.org
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.366: what we're not only ready for but doing

When I first subscribed to this listserve, I thought I would eventually
get something approaching an answer to my question "what is Digital
Humanities?" I did not necessarily expect an easy answer, a clear
answer, or even just one answer. What I thought I would get is a lot of
ideas and aspirations, most of which might be fragmentary or embryonic,
but at least some of which seemed to lead to some tangible actions or
directions. Instead, I find that even the most ardent advocates, and
often especially the most ardent advocates, appear to be struggling with
the same question. That seems to me to be a fundamental problem, and
perhaps a sign that rather than being a whole new thing, Digital
Humanities is mostly just a slight variation of what we have already
been doing, but desperately does not want to admit that. I say this as
someone who has spent more than 20 years preparing electronic texts, and
often been told that what I was doing "isn't really Digital Humanities,"
even as people saying so could not really say why. (I don't do this as a
professional, which sometimes casts a shadow of illegitimacy over my
efforts and views, but also grants me a degree of independence and
perspective that may not be available from inside.) At the moment,
Digital Humanities feels like a vague aspiration seeking not only for a
tangible expression, but for a definition or clarification of what the
aspiration is. Too much talk about Digital Humanities feels as if it is
an effort to hide the possible outcome that there is no such
clarification, at least not on the near horizon.

Jeffrey A. Savoye
The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore

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