Blog Post

What's on your DH bookshelf?

I just received my very own copy of Sherry Turkle's The Second Self.  That got me thinking-what's on your DH bookshelf?  What do you consider to be essential?



Hi Rebecca. 

I wouldn't consider Sherry Turkle's The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit to be a digital humanities text. It doesn't address the application of computational tools to traditional, non-progressive fields. 

I do, however, have Matt Gold's (ed.) Debates in the Digital Humanities, which is digital humanities in name but arguable in content. 

I have Stephen Ramsay's Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism, Peter Krapp's Noise Channels: Glitch and Error in Digital Culture, and N Katherine Hayles' Writing Machines

These digital humanities texts can be found on my bookshelves, though they are surrounded by rhetoric books. :)


Thanks for the response!

You're right, Turkle doesn't directly address the digital humanities.  I was thinking that she can be used as a lens for examining the humanities. 


Turkle's The Second Self is certainly on my DH shelf, as is her Life on the Screen. Both were on my PhD comp list back when "DH" wasn't a phrase that anyone used ("digital studies" or "humanities computing" would've been the likely candidates).  Other books on my DH bookshelf published before "DH" became a popular phrase include Murray's Hamlet on the Holodeck, Aarseth's Cybertext, Drucker's Figuring the Word, Kolko/Nakamura (eds) Race in Cyberspace, McGann's corpus (including Radiant Textuality), and a whole bunch of the early elit/hypertext criticism (Bolter, e.g.).  My more recent additions: Ramsay's Reading Machines and the jointly authored 10 PRINT.  I'm not sure all of those writers would self-identify as "digital humanities," but certainly most of them were influencing many scholars and students thinking about variants of DH 10-15 years ago.

Thanks for starting such an interesting thread!


I would recommend Franco Moretti's Maps, Graphs, and Trees: Abstract Models for Literary History (Verso, 2011). A new essay collection by him entitled Distant Reading is supposed to be published this summer.


In addition to Matt Gold's volume, I highly recommend Burdick, Drucker, Lunenfeld, Presner and Schnapp's _Digital Humanities_, also available in PDF. It combines manifesto-activism (based on the 2009 doc) with intriguing and apropos questions plus case studies. Importantly, it also addresses the kind of media epistemology that comes with DH territory.


Some good choices here. Looking forward to seeing the list grow.

I think a basic programming programming how-to book is worth having on the DH bookshelf. For me, it was Lutz's Learning Python—that helped me get through the basics. I look at Bird et al. Natural Language Processing with Python—a lot these days.

But even more helpful in a certain respect have been a few books about how to approach code and think more like a programmer. One that comes to mind is Hunt & Thomas's Pragmatic Progammer—which helped me better understand not only digital projects and project planning, but also to a certain extent my research and writing in general. A basic catalog of its "pragmatism" can be found here— Some of it is rather specific, but other things are good, practical and general advice.



Hi Everyone,

Thank you for sharing these wonderful reading selections. Patrick, the Pragmatic Progammer looks especially interesting; is this written for folks with basic or expansive coding knowledge?  


Lori Beth 


The book is definitely written for professionals, so maybe it would be better, not for the DH bookshelf, but for the DH pick-up-at-the-library list. That said, I think it's worth a quick read—even if you were to skip over all of the specialized and technical parts (of which, admittedly, there are many), it would probably be useful to get an idea of the the disciplinary mindset of professional programming and development, i.e. its concerns, approaches, strategies, etc. More and more DH projects seem to resemble the kind of development traditionally associated with software anyway with needs for prototyping, revision, bug tracking, version control, maintainabilty, etc., so it couldn't hurt to get some insight right from the source.


Great suggestions here as I work up lists for comps. I am reading Radiant Textuality by Jerome McGann. Also, not such a stretch, the novels of Georges Perec, an Oulipo writer who writes algorithmically and questions the nature of text.


The McGann book looks really interesting... Thanks! Added to my summer reading. Also, the Oulipo authors sound so interesting—have to admit, I hadn't heard of them before reading Ramsay's book.


Hi Patrick,

Thank you for following up on my question regarding the Pragmatic Progammer. I checked it out online and was pretty impressed with what I saw.  Sounds like I'm going to have to pick up a copy at the library this summer and give it a read!  :)

Lori Beth 


I really enjoyed reading Anna Munster's Materializing New Media: Embodiment in Information Aesthetics. Munster does a pretty excellent job of crossing traditional boundaries between art history, interface culture, and questions of materiality and embodiment in the digital age. This work might be especially important for those interested in the aesthetic/design components of digital humanities work - which I think aligns it nicely with Drucker, et. al's Digital_Humanities mentioned above.


I have a feeling that this one will make the cut as well... Matthew Jocker's Macroanalysis ( Sharing a panel with him at a conference next weekend—a bit humbling!—so was looking through the Amazon preview. Looks great.