What is Digital Humanities?

February 1, 2011

“What is ‘Digital Humanities'?” That’s a question I still get asked all the time. Over the years, there has been much discussion and debate as to exactly what the term means or encompasses. At the end of the day, of course, the precise definition may not really matter – I like to think it is more about the important work we do than the name we give it. But names and labels are useful and necessary, so the debate will likely continue.

Just the other day, NEH grantee and Associate Professor of English Matt Kirschenbaum from the University of Maryland published an essay in the ADE Bulletin on this topic. Matt has done some detective work here and presents some of the history of the term and how it came to be in wide use today. So if you are interested in this topic – or have a colleague who wonders what DH is all about – Matt’s essay is well worth reading. By the way, thanks to the Association of Departments of English and the Modern Language Association for making this article open access, thus allowing for a wide audience.