Who’s In?

As if our definition of “digital humanities” was not muddled enough, Ramsay presents us with another fuzzy elaboration on which specialties should be included in this discipline. On the surface, I appreciate Ramsay’s concept of “building”. It reminds me of the conversation we had in class that DH is “active usage of technology in humanities work”. This is my favorite way to define DH and understand where to draw the line around included events under our DH tent. Ramsay believes, “Digital Humanities is about building things”. Ramsay limits the “In List” to people who are “building something”. This also includes people who theorize, design, supervise, and rebuild present systems.

But what does “building something” mean? How does Ramsay limit which products qualify as “something”? We are assuming that this building and “something” be a digital creation, or something not necessarily tangible.  However I now have a mental picture a construction worker tracking mud all through the DH tent. “Building”? What does he expect us to construe from that?

Ramsay makes it a point to say that the idea that “Everyone is included” and DH is built on community, comity, collaboration, and cooperation is “nonsense”. I understand he wants to limit the professions that can be allowed into DH because the discipline is not “some airy Lyceum” but a “series of concrete instantiations”. However, I do not feel reassured that I grasp his intended parameters. I also wish Rasmay could explain the difference he finds between Digital Humanities and New Media Studies.

May be if Ramsay was allowed another twenty minutes to elaborate on the topics he introduced I would appreciate his new limits on the scope of DH. Unfortunately, Ramsay’s article had promise, but I feel like due to his time constraints he really did not make a strong impression on my definition on my understanding on “who’s In” for Digital Humanities. After reading Ramsay’s article I am left with the same over-arching question: what methods and fields are allowed in the digital humanities domain?


One Comment on “Who’s In?”

  1. Brian Croxall says:

    Ramsay did get to speak more at length in the Q&A / discussion that went along with this presentation, but I’ll probably not surprise you if I say that we didn’t reach any certain conclusions.

    I especially appreciate the fact that you’ve brought up the question of whether or not DH products need to be digital. Ramsay doesn’t say this explicitly. Perhaps it is the building as opposed to, say, just analyzing that marks DH. If that’s the case, we should perhaps think again that DH could be defined as what happens to the humanities when we’re thrust into a digital moment.