What is DH?

As you may have noted, one of the hallmarks of “digital humanities” is that it expends a lot of energy trying to figure out what exactly it is. Is it a new discipline, emerging the way English emerged in the mid-19th century as a subject of serious academic inquiry? Is it a diffuse movement within academia, advocating for free and open access to scholarly and pedagogical materials and a democratization of the highly hierarchical structures of the academy? Is it an intrusion of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) into the humanities, replacing traditional humanistic methods with those of the hard sciences and technical fields?

One of my favorite ways to answer this question (besides the two pieces we’re reading for tomorrow) is the wonderful site created by Jason Heppler that displays random answers to the question “What is Digital Humanities?” compiled from answers generated by the annual “Day of DH” event from 2009-2014. Every time you refresh the site, you get a new response, and the net effect is of diversity, egalitarianism, and innovation (since the site itself is an example of what it’s talking about). So go ahead: let 1,000 answers bloom.

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