The definition of Digital Humanities…a problematic endeavor

Throughout the selection of readings for this week I noticed one constant theme: it seems impossible to arrive at a consensus on a definition of the Digital Humanities. I think that the broad notion of the humanities proves beyond the scope of one single definition and adding digital technology into the picture only complicates matters. I think that those established digital humanists who played an essential role in developing the field should apply their intelligence and energy into “creating” instead of complaining about why Yale doesn’t really meet the “standards” of Digital Humanities. Essentially, the work of the humanities is to address historical, cultural, and other questions of the like to enhance the existence of humanity. Whether this involves coding, or not, looking at digital artifacts or the use of geospatial mapping technologies, any work which makes a significant contribution in some way to the pre-exisiting body of knowledge known as the humanities and employs technology in some capacity should be considered Digital Humanities. As one who is interested in looking at the digital as more of an artifact and exploring the impact of digital technology on youth culture through the lens of modern music, I found the reluctance to accept what is seen as “traditional scholars interested in the digital more as a digitally inflected object of inquiry” somewhat problematic. Does this mean I don’t belong in the Digital Humanities? I don’t think the question should be, “whether there is room for research in the digital humanities that does not engage with tools, or ‘making’ in Ramsey’s narrow sense, and whether that work can be accepted in its own right,” but rather, how are those engaged in the various facets of the humanities not just creating technology to enhance academic work and society, but also contributing to our understanding of technology and its full impact on our lives and the world around us. After all, aren’t those the analytical types of questions and inquiries that are supposed to form the centerpiece or foundation of a liberal arts or humanities education?

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