Week 3: What is DH?

As an analytical-minded person, I used this week’s readings to look for definitions and categories to help myself better understand the field of digital humanities. While I was able to determine some main categories of DH project times (i.e. archives, cultural analytics, text mining, and online publishing), I soon began to realize that not all digital projects can fit into a box.  This week’s readings helped me establish a background and framework to understand DH without limiting the potential to defined categories.

The two waves of digital humanities projects was an interesting classification.  The first wave of DH work was quantitative, relying on reviving the database, automating corpus linguistics, etc.  This wave hinges on numbers and corpus linguistics without taking into account what makes the humanities human.  According to the Manifesto 2.0, the second wave is qualitative, interpretive, experiential, emotive, generative in character.  This second wave allows researchers to embrace a more fluid and experimental relationship to DH.  It added more of a human component, allowing researchers to be creative.

I am particularly interested in the cultural heritage side of DH. I would like to get involved in digital archives because it’s interesting and would also fuel my research.  The concept of curation intrigues me.  As the Manifesto 2.0 points out, “Curation means making arguments through objects as well as words, images, and sounds.”  To me, this is a central concept to DH, as it helps me envision how my projects can develop into something more DH focused. I also appreciate that curators are no longer exiled to museum work, scholars can now be curators of their own work. DH scholars should be engaged in collecting, assembling, sifting, structuring, and interpreting.  As someone who identifies as a historical/ancient rhetoric scholar, I want to become involved in curating my own archives to preserve the material and fuel my research.  The challenges of streamlining and digitizing historical texts and artifacts is upon us.  As the Manifesto 2.0 argues, DH researchers should work alongside librarians and archivists to meet the growing needs of this sector.

After these readings, I am still not completely clear on what would not be classified or included as a digital humanities project. Is a website that uses a curated theme to make an argument in the realm of a DH project.  What makes it more than just a website and an actual DH project? Does this distinction lie with the goal of the website?  If it has an argument and uses DH methods, is it a DH project?  I hope to hone in on these questions this semester.

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