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Start-Up Grant Program Encouraging Research that Studies Digital Culture

June 7, 2012 | By Brett Bobley

I’m pleased to say that we’ve just posted the new guidelines for our Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants program. The deadline this year is September 25, 2012. Each year, we make small changes to our grant guidelines based on feedback and discussions with the field. This year, in the section where we list the types of things the program funds, we added a new bullet:

  • scholarship that focuses on the history, criticism, and philosophy of digital culture and its impact on society;

We added this bullet to encourage more applicants whose research involves studying digital culture from a humanities perspective. Let me give you a bit of background on why:  Way back in 2005, when we were first thinking about a new Digital Humanities Initiative (the precursor to the Office of Digital Humanities), we framed “digital humanities” projects as typically falling into two large buckets:  projects that used (or built) digital technology to pursue traditional humanities scholarship; and projects that studied technology and its impact from a humanistic perspective.  But over the past seven years, we’ve seen far more grant applications from that first bucket than the second.

During the past year, we’ve been thinking a lot about how to encourage more applicants to consider that second bucket – to explore digital culture from a philosophical, historical, or critical perspective. We’ve recently had a number of very helpful conversations with scholars who do this kind of work and we decided to see if we couldn’t add some more explicit language to our guidelines. We also intend to talk it up more at conferences, grant workshops, and the like. Do please help us spread the word.

So if you do this kind of work and are in need of grant funding, please keep the Start-Up Grants program in mind. Obviously, the program still welcomes a wide range of projects (check out our videos about recently funded projects to get an overview).

Oh, and one other change we’ve made: We’ve modestly raised the amount of the grant. Previously, the Level I grant had a maximum of $25,000 and the Level II had a max of $50,000. We’ve raised them to $30,000 and $60,000, respectively. We made this change simply to keep up with inflation. The things that people typically use grant money for (paying graduate students, travel, salary, etc.) have all gone up over the past few years. So we raised the grant maximums to reflect that.