Kirschenbaum: “What Is Digital humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?”

Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. “What Is Digital humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?” ADE Bulletin. Web. 2010.

Key Terms
Digital humanities
Humanities computing

This article attempts to answer “What is (or are) the “digital humanities”? In response to this question, Kirschenbaum kneads through definitions, institutional and scholarly structures (departments, journals, conferences, organizations), academic networks. Kirschenbaum sees the publication of Blackwell’s **Companion to Digital Humanities**, the formation of the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations, and the NEH sponsored Digital Humanities Initiative as germinal moments in the accretion of a wider conceptualization of the digital humanities. The 2009 MLA conference stands out as an important moment for the digital humanities vis-à-vis English, with Kirschenbaum pointing to the backchannels of session conversation afforded by Twitter. In more direct answer, Kirschenbaum point to the textual nature of English Departments, a nature which meshes well analytical, text-processing operations abundant in the methods of the DH; a long relationship between computers and composition [no mention of C&W?], editorial theory, hypertext and electronic literature projects; cultural studies in English Departments.

Key Quotes
“In the space of a little more than five years digital humanities had gone from being a term of convenience used by a group of researchers who had already been working together for years to something like a movement.”

“Whatever else it might be then, the digital humanities today is about a scholarship (and a pedagogy) that is publicly visible in ways to which we are generally unaccus- tomed, a scholarship and pedagogy that are bound up with infrastructure in ways that are deeper and more explicit than we are generally accustomed to, a scholarship and pedagogy that are collaborative and depend on networks of people and that live an active 24/7 life online.”

Further Reading
Brian Croxall “The Absent Presence: Today’s Faculty”
Cynthia Self “Computers in English Departments: The Rhetoric of Technopower.”


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