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What does DH look like at your institution?

What does DH look like at your institution?

What does DH look like at your institution and does that work in getting more scholars interested?

I spent last week showing several prospective PhD students around Vanderbilt and telling those who were interested about on-campus Digital Humanities (DH) efforts. During those conversations I realized that while Vanderbilt has many scholars who are interested in DH, we don't really have a centralized forum where people can learn about what's going on here. Instead, things are a little more nebulous, with several centers (i.e., Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy, Center for Teaching, Robert Penn Warren Center for Humanities, Center for Second Language Studies, and Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning) and individual scholars on campus that report on DH matters that are relevant to their purposes and aims.

As I began to type an email to a prospective PhD student about DH at Vanderbilt, I started to wonder if it would be useful to make this information more widely accessible. And this is where I could use your help. Right now, my goal is to create a website that provides a centralized location for information with links to the Vanderbilt DH initiatives and suggestions about local scholars to follow on Twitter or via RSS. But, is that my best option?

If you have a moment, I'm looking for DHers to answer a few questions and provide links to their institutions or other informative organizations:

  1. Does your institution have a centralized way of learning about its DH initiatives? Or are they more nebulous? (Relatedly, does that work for your institution or can you imagine something better?)
  2. When you started learning about DH, what would have been helpful to know?
  3. What information about DH would you want to be able to access more readily?

Thank you in advance for your responses and suggestions!

Photo Credit: Question mark by Marco Bellucci via Compfight cc license




Ted Underwood, professor of English Literature at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign posted a beautiful post about the connections between disciplinary and extradisciplinary institutions with DH:


These are some good questions, and I look forward to seeing how different places navigate these issues. At my own institution, the University of Connecticut, digital humanities is not centralized, but digital scholars work in many different disciplines--e.g. Medieval Studies (my home), English, History, Literatures Cultures and Languages, Digital Media and Design (which is developing a DH major track), etc. Perhaps the most centralized effort is taking place in the libraries, especially with the development of the Scholars' Collaborative, which has drawn together a number of scholars and projects across disciplines. Of course, a lot of this has been loosely held together by a DH listserve that facilitates information and communication sharing. This lack of centralization has worked as things have grown over the past few years, but there have been more recent efforts to create stronger ties and foster greater collaboration. Some of this is discussed here.

When I began reading about and exploring DH and approaching digital scholarship in my own work (about 2 years ago), I would have liked to know more about the multidisciplinary depth of the work outside of my immediate knowledge. Mostly I looked to scholars in English, since my scholarship focuses mainly on literary study. More recently, I've gained a lot from those in other fields, and especially from scholars in the UConn ibraries. Related to this, while I've been fortunate to gain support and help from the library-based Scholars' Collaborative, it would be beneficial for me (and fellow grad students with DH interests) to have more institutional technical support--especially server space and technical staff. (Of course, this leads to issues of institutional funding, etc.)