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Digital Humanities’ Relation to the Humanities

Digital Humanities’ Relation to the Humanities

Help in thinking about how Digital Humanities relates to the humanities (and communicates its relation) can be found in Ryan Cordell’s lecture-turned-blogpost, “How Not to Teach Digital Humanities.”

As the title suggests, Cordell’s main focus is on teaching DH, and he presents the failures and successes of one of his own undergraduate courses as exhibit A. Along the way he touches on larger issues facing Digital Humanities which will be of interest even to those not teaching the subject.

A few excerpts:

Rather than beginning with interminable discussions of what counts or doesn’t [as DH], or who’s in or who’s out, we worked toward an understanding of the field’s contours by studying the theories and methods that undergird it, focusing on its projects and critical publications rather than its attempts at self-definition.

…In my teaching and my scholarship, I have become increasingly convinced that DH will only be a revolutionary interdisciplinary movement if its various practitioners bring to it the methods of distinct disciplines and take insights from it back to those disciplines.

…To talk about “digital humanities,” then, is not to talk to our students, but to talk to each other.

…Indeed, the skills students want are those which would allow them to create their own digital work, and perhaps even their own tools—in other words, they want to learn to engage with, and not simply use, technology in the classroom.

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