Teaching the Digital Humanities (Interdisciplinary) Journey

Solving common problems in the Digital Humanities

Like many interdisciplinary fields within the humanities, the Digital Humanities consists of a broad range of researchers arriving within its fold from a range of disciplinary practices. These may include disciplines as diverse as Papyrology, Musicology, Classics, Epigraphy, Medieval Studies, history and Classical Archaeology.  The Digital Humanities, through its journals, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, conferences, and research output is a fertile interdisciplinary space synergised, in part, through computing innovations at the research-methodology level. The methods employed in the field may involve text-encoding to create scholarly and critical editions of canonical texts, text mining techniques to uncover new historical knowledge about geographical place or word usage, or visualising data about archaeological sites to propose new arguments about their building practices or cultural uses. Many of the methods employed in one research endeavour may be applicable to another and it is this hard-gained practical wisdom in the Digital Humanities field; to facilitate the productive application of technical innovations to appropriate research question, that is difficult to teach.

Accordingly, much of the most valuable tacit knowledge within the digital humanist is gained through negotiating the cultural and technical capitals of the academy. These interdisciplinary skills, ironically, are historically contingent upon the precarious institutional arrangements of the field.  A field that has traditionally lacked an institutional base to support long-term research strategies has in fact, produced some of the most sophisticated interdisciplinary scholars anywhere in the academy that have produced many impressive contributions to scholarship . Trouble is how does one teach a set of skills that were often developed out of necessity? How does one impart to eager undergrad and graduate students the skills needed to develop and interpret digital projects that engage with the human record in a meaningful and purposeful way?

Leave a Reply