Building Digital Humanities

The book Debates in the Digital Humanities is a compilation of articles about the definition, anxieties, pros and cons of digital humanities, and the overall shifting this methodology, pedagogy and field is producing within academia. 

Edited by Matthew K. Gold, the book itself presents a different way of approaching work in humanities. Not only is the content of the book available online through an open access, interactive website  (http://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/debates), but the book was also evaluated through an open, peer-review process by the contributors of each of the articles using a blog-like platform in which only they had access to. Although the book was subjected to blind peer-review, as well, the two former characteristics are examples of some changes digital humanities are producing in academia. 

The article I find most interesting is Developing Things: Notes toward an Epistemology of Building Humanities by Stephen Ramsay and Geoffrey Rockwell. These two authors challenge the concept of scholarship, they take it to a new level by reevaluating the process of traditional written scholarship and proposing a new form of scholarship that is built upon technology.

The authors argue that one of the central anxieties of scholars working on digital humanities is that they don’t fully recognize scholarship as technological tools in order to build humanities. If one understands scholarship as the whole process of writing a book –  the formulation of a problem, the annotated bibliography, the gathering primary sources, the hermeneutics applied to those sources, the heuristics applied to solve the problem, and the writing of the actual book – why not consider the tools built by a digital humanist as scholarship, as well?

This challenge shifts the regular definition of scholarship. The understanding of digital humanities as a built process is central to the future of this field. Its legitimization will encourage scholars to pursue new endeavors that might require coding and hacking to build humanities, doing so without fear of not being recognized by the academy and sure of they contributions and credentials to pursue tenure positions in universities.  

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