Defining “Digital Humanities”


Like many others, I’m going to be participating in this year’s Day of Digital Humanities. It’s my first year doing so since last year’s Day coincided with a campus interview and it just didn’t seem kosher to write about what I was doing even though it was a digital humanities job.

The Day of DH team asks you to register to participate so that they can easily keep track of everyone who is taking part. Registration is not necessary (nor perhaps even in the spirit of some DH) and you can play along simply by using the #dayofDH hashtag on Twitter. One advantage of registering, however, was that the Day of DH team asked each participant to define “digital humanities.” I’ve read a number of people’s reflections on this subject, ranging from the brief (Dan Cohen’s) to the Venn-diagram powered (Alex Reid’s) to the provocative (Ian Bogost’s). All three of these are well worth your time, as is Chris Forster’s definition from a September 2010 HASTAC blog post.

Defining DH seems to be everyone’s favorite way to start an argument. I don’t know that anyone finds me worth arguing with, but for what it’s worth, here’s the definition that I submitted to the Day of DH planners:

When I’m asked, I like to say that digital humanities is just one method for doing humanistic inquiry.

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