Blog Post

Wandering into the Digital Humanities...

Greetings fellow HASTAC-ers - I'm here in large part because I'm not quite sure what are digital humanities, let alone the humanities. I mean, I do know what these terms are supposed to represent - the established and broad fields (History, English, Arts, etc...) within the humanities venturing into realms where technologies and the emerging digital ethos shapes scholarly research and pedagogy, with the implications that academia in general needs updating and reworking. But my uncertainty/curiosity about the digital humanities stems from what may very well be arbitrary disciplinary boundaries: I am in a communications school that veers towards the social scientific and in an area (media/television studies) that seems to straddle the humanities and social sciences. I'm heartened that this is a community that draws on a range of disciplines and perspectives, so much so that I do not feel out of place but recognize that I can use an orientation. And so - I look forward to learning from the HASTAC community what digital humanities means, can mean, and can do, as well as figure out how media and my new found love of archives fits in.

My Introduction:

I am doctoral student at the University of Oregon in the School of Journalism and Communication. I study (slash love) television. Hence my somewhat cautionary sentiment about the humanities and social sciences, since the study of television can reside in either and/or both. This is especially the case when one looks at where television course work and research takes place such as in English, Communication, Journalism, Theater, History, Art departments and elsewhere or perhaps no where (for more on the topic, check out Michele Hilmes' article in Cinema Journal, The Bad Object: Television in the American Academy, and Julie D'Acci's chapter in Television After Television, Cultural Studies, Television Studies, and the Crisis in the Humanities; also note the blog post categories options on the pulldown menu as markers of distinction and what goes together... there is no just media option, but journalism and media, and there is no television option, but film or photography, although I am manually adding television). But the beauty of television is that it can be approached from limitless angles and modes of inquiry, incorporated into the classroom and critically analyzed like any other text. My other research interests gravitate towards new media, its history, and how digitization and the Internet can foster access to historical material. That's where I see one of my entry points into the digital humanities.

Currently, I'm working on my dissertation called A History of Archiving Television (gonna hold on to a title with no colon as long as I can!), which traces when and how television materials enter archiving institutions. At a basic level, I'm curious about how television is understood as cultural and historical material worthy of preservation and interrogating the formation of television collections. On a broader scale, I'm thinking about the history of archiving television also as a history of the television industry, of technologies and mechanisms of preservation, and of the bumpy road for television's legitimation in the academy. Eventually, I would love to take this project in the direction of digital archives, preservation, and access. But for now, I plan on visually mapping (or at least, blogging about) the location of key television collections and how they came about. Overall, I am drawn to examining archives, its facets and formations in general (so not just television, but seems like a good place for me to start). It's great to see so many others interested in archives and access... you know you're on to something when others are right there with you. I'm exicted to learn more about what others are doing with archives, digital technologies, and visual mapping. Onward!   

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3 comments

Hi! I was struck by your post because it is exactly why I'm here too, and I was starting to feel like I was the only one; If anything, I think that a big part of what we do here should be to question the Digital Humanities as an object or a subject. Is it "only" visual mapping, questions of archiving, or is it something else too? Is there really an "old" notion of the humanities trying to be "updated" by the notion "digital"? Somewhat, this seems like it's the case, but it also seems like a reduction.

Here is my first article on kind of the same subject, perhaps we can try to organize something together at some point, like a forum on what are the Digital Humanities exactly: https://hastac.org/blogs/pauline-goul/2012/10/01/giving-finger-back-digital

I think a discussion like this is necessary here, so thank you for your post!

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I love the idea of a forum to discuss how to define and think about digital humanities. I have started reading through the collection of essays Debates in the Digital Humanities, edited by Mathew K. Gold, and feel that one thing that seems to be missing is much writing about a "poetics of digital space" -- I would love to think about this in terms like those set forth by Michel de Certeau in The Practice of Everyday Life and Bachelard in The Poetics of Space. Maybe this is because I am somewhat avoiding the fact that I am not particularly technolgically savvy, and am a little scared of the more material or code-related aspects of digital humanities! So, I'm glad to see that others are interested in theorizing what this discipline might be about.

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I'll be reading it now, I got tired of everyone mentionning it! Can we talk more about de Certeau and Bachelard? I'm interested to kow what you think. I'm not big in theory, but I'm learning so I'd be glad to exchange ideas on the subject.

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