DH(s): Histories, Debates, and Promises

By Amanda Regan

This summer I am completing a readings course for my minor field in Digital History.  This weeks readings have discussed the digital humanities, the history of the field, and have offered critiques as well as predictions about where the field is going.  Most volumes about Digital Humanities discuss the history of the field and place its origins in the history of humanities computing.  While there is certainly truth in these accounts, they often overlook the histories of disciplines such as history and how these fields merged together to form the “Digital Humanities” around 2004.  This week’s readings have coincided with the recent conversations about the digital humanities by  by Tom Schienfelt and Stephen Robertson. The current discussion about the fragmentation of the Digital Humanities into disciplines makes reading about the debates, critiques, and trends in the Digital Humanities even more interesting.  While history is most certainly part of the digital humanities conversation (and I’m not arguing that it shouldn’t be) I think it is useful to look at the issues in the field from the perspective of an aspiring digital historian and to discuss how they might be relevant to those of us looking to create digital dissertations and those of us preparing to enter the job market in the next six years.


The Digital Humanities community spends a lot of time working to define just what exactly the digital humanities are.  Many of the edited works such as Matthew Gold’s Debates in Digital Humanities, Berry’s Understanding Digital Humanities, and Burdich’s co-authored volume Digital_Humanities tell a similar story of the history of digital humanities.  The origins of humanities computing go as far back as the 1940s (to Father Busi) but humanities computing accelerated during the 1980s
Source: Amanda Regan  

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