I’m a graduate student at the University of Iowa, working towards a PhD in English literature. I specialize in British literature 1785-1917, with interests in empire, gender, and poetry. Having just started to explore the many Victorian magazines which have recently become available online, I admit that I’m attracted by the idea of big, ambitious textual analysis projects—the sorts of things that can analyze thousands of texts. But at the same time, I’m torn between liking these projects and wondering if they should be what we expend effort on: even (especially?) in a cultural climate that constantly questions the value of our work, I question whether scale is the answer. Perhaps we are and should remain close readers, not large-scale literary historians or archivists.
So, perversely, I’m coming at the digital humanities with uncertain feeling, and my questions about the digital humanities are closely related to larger questions about what the humanities are, or should be. Perhaps as a way of addressing or resolving my own questions, I’m curious what other disciplines are doing with digital tools, in both creative fields like music and art and the hard sciences. I’m very much looking forward to spending the next year exploring the Iowa community.