- 1 – The volume describes the breadth and depth of how the humanities engage with the digital and information technology, including discipline-specific studies and perspectives, research infrastructure, innovative tools, and creative expression. We are committed in and through the volume to articulate an expansive and large-scale vision of the field, of the humanities at large, and so also of their constitutive relations to each other.
- This volume aspires to be field-defining in an opening and open-ended sorts of ways, to be inspirational and bridge building through suggesting and manifesting a “ large ” and capacious sense of the digital, of the humanities, of their relation, and, in the final analysis, of what is marked by the name “ digital humanities. ” It is all this that we intend by the “ between ” in the title.
- 2 – There are multiple possible futures for what is today marked as digital humanities. One possibility would be to create a technologically and methodologically focused platform, somewhat similar to what humanities computing used to be. This would be a perfectly valuable part of the humanities, but it would be a much smaller project than the current scope and footprint of the digital humanities. However valuable such a trajectory, it would seem to be counterproductive not to build on the current situation with a field that is engaging with the humanities as never before.
- A main argument of this volume is that the digital humanities need to engage with the humanities multifariously and deeply. But equally, that which lies between the humanities and the digital will help shape the future of the field of digital humanities.
- 3 – At the risk of caricature, existing work around questions of humanities and informational technology can be divided at the outer edges roughly between the technological and methodological imperatives represented by work under the rubric of humanities computing, on one hand, and critical studies of the role, structures and infrastructures, interventions, and impacts of the range of work falling under new media, on the other.
- 4 – In all, then, Between Humanities and the Digital reveals that a new turn — perhaps a new temporal chapter — has emerged in the relational engagement between humanities and the digital. The most interesting and innovative work today in what has come to be referenced by digital humanities is less in its discrete self-formation as a self-encapsulating, self-informed, and selfreferencing discipline so much as in the ways the digital has been taken up to push the boundaries of the sorts of questions and challenges the humanities have long addressed within, across, and beyond their own disciplinary formations. It is in the “ between ” that the most interesting, creative, and provocative work of the digital and the humanistic is today being done.
- More of an interdiscipline than a discipline
- 5-6 – First, it puts the humanities into serious play with technical disciplines such as engineering and computing sciences in terms both of engaging with the latter ’ s conceptual and instrumental capabilities and of engaging its epistemological assumptions as objects of (critical) analysis and comprehension. As such, it opens up challenges to engineering and computational thinking to engage more humanistically, whether by way of addressing more conventionally humanistic subject matters or by finding more humanistically disposed processes in their own applications and practices.
- Is it expected to make the technical disciplines more humanistic or the inverse?
- 6 – Second, it provides the humanities with productive possibilities to reach new publics and well-disposed intellectuals in new ways. The reach of digital media provides the potential to engage a far broader range of publics, while in turn challenging humanists to become more self-reflective about how to represent their own work in more publicly accessible ways without necessarily compromising the quality or criticality of their work.
- Third, it challenges conventional modes of knowledge production and encourages exploration of multimodal expressions. Humanistic engagement has long predicated itself dominantly on more or less narrowly construed textual media, and digital technology has made multimodal production far more readily available. This, in turn, pressures humanists to think both more creatively and provocatively about the possibilities of multimediating composition, curation, and argumentation.
- And fourth, digital humanities enables the humanities to question in far more robust ways the practices, place, and role of the humanities in the twenty-first century. Digital technology has come to magnify the range and applications of meaning, value, and significance, the possibilities and actual expressions of interactive and relational cultural expression across broad divides hitherto less interactive. It has made possible new modes of translatability, with all the attendant challenges regarding power divides, interpretive presumption and failures, and translational hubris and misdirection thus posed. These concerns with meaning, value, significance, and textual, representational, and broadly cultural translation are issues long central to humanistic concern and focus.
T H E E X A M P L E : S O M E H I S T O R I C A L C O N S I D E R A T I O N S – Jonathan Sterne
- 17 – On this front, commentaries on the digital humanities have a lot in common with current trends in media studies: both claim a certain kind of materialism, and insist that we attend to the materiality of scholarly productions. This essay mostly takes that tack. From the outset, however, I want to acknowledge the limits of that approach as a solution to the intellectual challenges facing digital humanists. 1 Sure, we must better understand the articulations of language and technology that make up the humanist stratum (if not the whole human stratum). But I make the point in the shadow of a bigger one: great scholarship also requires a kind of situated transcendence, where we lose track of our tools enough (or become good enough at them ) to get lost in the world of ideas.
- 18 – If the term digital humanities applies a technical modifier to a broad mode of inquiry in the human sciences, we must be careful to avoid the well-documented mistakes of other digital utopians who confuse digitization with technologization. Digital technologies are certainly technological, but they are not necessarily more technological than what came before them. They are simply more apparent as technologies because of their relative novelty.
- 26-27 – The need for an institutionalized, reproducible technocultural infrastructure — and its occasioned mystification — is one of the central problems that confronts digital humanists today. I don ’ t think it makes a big difference in terms of what “ kind ” of digital humanists we are talking about. Whether you are interested in new modes of disseminating knowledge and new platforms for doing it, or new digitally aided approaches to inquiry, the struggles over the “ how ” are so monumental that the technics for thought take up some of the space that thoughts about stuff used to occupy. I ’ m all for discussions of technics, but there is a well-documented issue that humanists now share with musicians and cooks. You can have the best gear, and music can sound terrible and the food can taste bad. Too much focus on the gear (or its techniques) tends to take time away from actual cooking and music.
- 28 – As a scholar, I value ideas much more than I value methods, or rather I do not see the creation of a method as an end in itself. I am more interested in what we can do with it (I ’ d say the same for theories). By this measure, the digital humanities have produced a lot of infrastructure and resources, a host of experiments and new textual forms. But they have not fully delivered at the level of ideas. How might the delivery arrive?
- Perhaps people have delivered inspirational idea through digital humanities projects, but very few scholars are viewing/respecting those projects as legitimate scholarship enterprises and therefore those ideas aren’t attaining the cache that their inspirationality deserves?
W H Y YA C K N E E D S H A C K ( A N D V I C E V E R S A ) : F R O M D I G I T A L H U M A N I T I E S T O D I G I T A L L I T E R A C Y – Cathy N. Davidson
- 133 – Prescriptively, that paradigmatic final exam with which this chapter began is intended to encompass the ambitions of digital humanities. Digital humanities is not content or method exclusively, not solely theory or practice. Digital humanities is the embodiment and communication of ideas online, with the implicit goal of inviting community participation in the co-creation of knowledge.
- If the ideal digital humanities final exam is about making things ( “ hacking ” ), I would suggest that digital humanities, to be truly realized, also requires heightened attention to theory, to exploring and understanding the intellectual, legal, philosophical, and personal issues of going public. What is subjectivity in a connected world? What is authorship? These are not trivial questions. Yacking is also necessary. In fact the catch phrase “ more hack, less yack ” does not fully comprehend the pedagogical and, sometimes, activist responsibilities of digital humanists. Humanists need to explain why we are committed to public knowledge, multimedia forms of representation, open access to the knowledge we create, and peer-forms of connected learning and assessment if we are going to contribute to the redesign of the university for the digital age.
- 134 – Digital humanities is also about realigning traditional relationships between disciplines, between authors and readers, between scholars and a general public, and, in other ways, re-envisioning the borders and missions of twenty-first century education.
M E D I E V A L M A T E R I A L I T Y T H R O U G H T H E D I G I T A L L E N S – Cecilia Lindhé
- 194 – Johanna Drucker (2009b) describes this accordingly: “ Computational methods rooted in formal logic tend to be granted more authority in this dialogue [between computational technology and the traditional humanities] than methods grounded in aesthetic and subjective judgment ” (xi). Consequently in this chapter I attempt to invert this power relation by using humanities tools, such as memoria and ductus , in order to challenge the conceptual foundations of existing websites and digital archives of medieval artifacts.
- 202 – With the aid of the digital lens, it is therefore not only possible to analyze what is new in digital interactive art but also to experiment with new ways of reading and viewing. It is possible to defamiliarize — affirm, correct, deepen, or overturn — our understanding of and approach to more traditional art forms and practices. But perhaps most important, the digital lens makes possible the exploration of the limits print culture has imposed upon pre-print culture and so to destabilize those critical limits.
T H E C U T B E T W E E N U S : D I G I T A L R E M I X A N D T H E E X P R E S S I O N O F S E L F – Jenna Ng
- 218 – The third way — and the focus of this chapter — is through the text ’ s interstices . Here I want to think about how a text changes when put into a state of between-ness — between lines, between words, between letters, between edges, between pages, between frames, between sounds, between marks, between binaries (light/darkness; sound/silence; line/space). How may between-ness be a useful concept to think about authoring in the digital humanities? In particular, I want to think about the cut as the operative tool for understanding between-ness, as the act which crystallizes the fissure represented by that space of the in-between (the cleaving of two positive spaces literally delivers a space betwixt — a fissure, a breach, a cleft). As a central issue, I want to think about the cut, not in terms of production, but destruction — or, more specifically, creation in destruction — and ultimately to link that, if paradoxically, to content creation in the digital humanities. A cut is ordinarily destructive: it carves up rather than constructs; it dissects rather than constitutes.
- In this chapter I want to argue the cut as a productive method, one that can create an active space of between-ness, enabling new meanings to be formed, new juxtapositions to be made, new ways of seeing and new content to be created. I will use as my primary example the digital remix, a media form created precisely by shredding up its original contents and re-organizing them to bring about new meaning. As I explore the digital remix, I am also mindful of my discussion as a part of what David Berry (2011) proposes as the third wave of digital humanities, “ that is . . . to look at the digital component of the digital humanities in the light of its medium specificity, as a way of thinking about how medial changes produce epistemic changes ” (4). To that extent, I also want to consider remix specifically in its digitality as an agent of such changes in the way we understand authorship, content creation and identity transformations in the digital humanities.
- 220-21 – The remix can be better understood today as a discourse rather than any particular set of cultural practices or techniques. The remix has its roots as a musical practice starting from the late 1960s in Jamaican music (Brewster and Broughton 2000; Poschardt 1998) and developed in the 1970s with the growing practices of sampling in disco and hip hop culture. Since then, however, and particularly so in the twenty-first century, it has been appropriated for various contexts and applications, ranging from literature to architecture to pedagogy to Web 2.0 technologies (Sonvilla-Weiss 2010; Navas 2010) so that it is now almost a language, connecting and pointing with its own semiotics at its original texts (or allegorizing them, as Navas puts it).
- 226 – This understanding of cutting and being may thus relate to the digital humanities in three ways, with the first two already discussed at length: first, in understanding digital materiality itself, of both its fluidities and fluencies in changing our thoughts on meaning, time, space, and realities; and second, in opening up spaces for digital “ making, ” so that creativity lies not only in the discrete production of things but also in the in-between spaces of cutting, collision and violence. The third way, then, may be in thinking through (re-)alignment of the digital humanities to humanities study in general, a relationship in which a schism threatens to emerge: as one example, William Pannapacker (2011) describes the digital humanities as “ the cool-kids ’ table, ” seeming “ more exclusive, more cliquish, than they did even one year ago. ” Yet, even in allowing conceptual leeway for differences (in output, content, method, etc.), the space of separation need not be divisive — the limbo of between-ness can also be fun, creative, and constructive. Might not more (in ideas, understanding, and knowledge production) be achieved via collisions rather than ruptures? Might there not be greater potential in more positively identifying the digital humanities by making use of the destructive force of the cut, drawing on violence and acting on conflict in precisely those spaces of the in-between?