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  • Writer's pictureKeidra Navaroli

Week 10 Notes and Reflection on Digital Humanities


Burdick, A., Drucker, J., Lunenfeld, P., Presner, T., & Jeffrey, S. (2012). Digital_Humanities. MIT Press.

Reflection and Application:

The selected chapters of this publication are focused on establishing a definition of the humanities, its history (i.e. humanism), its media (i.e. print culture), and the impact of interactive design in the twentieth century. The book also provides a useful portfolio of projects that demonstrate the central aims of the book. Digital Humanities is positioned as an iterative process rather than a rigid discipline.

Chapter/Part 1 Notes and Key Terms:

Key argument: the humanities must survive because they embody distinctive modes of producing knowledge and distinctive models of knowledge itself.

Goal of the publication: Envision the present era as one of exceptional promise for the renewal of humanistic scholarship and sets out to demonstrate the contributions of contemporary humanities scholarship to new modes of knowledge formation enabled by networked, digital environments.

Attention to the design of arguments is a fundamental feature of Digital Humanities research.

For digital humanists, design is a creative practice harnessing cultural, social,

economic, and technological constraints in order to bring systems and objects

into the world. Not every digital humanist will become a designer, but every good digital

humanist has to be able to “read” and appreciate that which design has to offer, to

build the shared vocabulary and mutual respect that can lead to fruitful collaborations.

The positive demand for expanded skill-sets could have profoundly negative effects on scholarship if it becomes the academic equivalent of a neo-liberal speedup in which ever more quantitative metrics are used to push “education workers” into acquiring technological skills without commensurate pay, skills which they are then held accountable for, both within and outside of tenure tracks.

Digital Humanities projects can be described by sketching their structure at several levels. These begin with basic computation (programming, processing, protocols) and extend through the levels of organization and output that form the basis of most users’ experience (interface, devices, networks).

Computation relies on principles that are, on the surface, at odds with humanistic


Curation is the selection and organization of materials in an interpretive framework, argument, or exhibit.

Other relevant terms:

Analysis - refers to the processing of text or data: Statistical and quantitative

methods of analysis have brought close reading of texts (genre

analysis, collation, comparison of versions for author attribution or usage patterns)

into dialogue with distant reading. Editing - parsing of the cultural record in terms of questions of authenticity, origin, transmission, or production. Modeling - shapes of argument expressed in information structures and their design.

The capacity for the rapid creation, testing, and reworking of Digital Humanities

Projects (prototyping) goes hand-in-hand with the flexibility, mutability, and extensibility of digital media.

The phrase Digital Humanities thus describes not just a collective singular

but also the humanities in the plural, able to address and engage disparate subject

matters across media, language, location, and history.

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