DH Post 1

My initial understanding of digital humanities was that no one really has a straightforward definition for what it is, but most people who speak on it (like Meeks, Croxall, and Schnapp) have an idea of what it can accomplish. “Digital humanities” seems to me to encompass all attempts to bring the disciplines considered “humanities,” like history, literature, philosophy, etc., into the digital age. Most of these disciplines deal with items and ideas from all different time periods, from historical letters and novels to ancient philosophical ideas, and digital humanities creates a new way of looking at and understanding these.

Schnapp and Croxall both touch on how digital humanities has opened avenues of communication within the disciplines of humanities and how this has, like Schnapp says, broken down partitions between strictly scholarly discussions from those that are not. This is something Meeks also mentioned with his discussion of “fan culture.” Now, people who are academics (with a masters degree or Ph.D.) and people who are not can both contribute to scholarly discussions about the humanities using digital avenues.

Schnapp also makes the point that digital humanities is not trying to replace the physical with the virtual. My understanding of this is that digital humanities simply tries to provide another way of looking at and interpreting the physical (such as letters and historical artifacts like the letters between Ezra Pound and Thomas Carter that we are using in class for our projects) in a digital way. This could be simply digitizing physical documents or using software to create a visual representation relating to a discipline in the humanities (like the project Croxall discussed where his students made a visual representation of the frequency that Hemingway used certain words in his writing).

Digital humanities can impact areas outside of scholarship as well. A good example of this is the demonstration from our class on Monday. We took data that Facebook collected from our personal accounts (like our friend lists and mutual friend lists) and plugged it into a program that created a visual representation of the network of relationships between our friends and ourselves. This information was not academic, being generated from our personal Facebook accounts, and was really only relevant to our Facebook friends and us. Still, the activity shows how skills and methods used in digital humanities can apply to areas outside of scholarship and can be applied to daily life as well.