Let’s be honest—there is no def­i­n­i­tion of dig­i­tal human­i­ties, if by def­i­n­i­tion we mean a con­sis­tent set of the­o­ret­i­cal con­cerns and research meth­ods that might be aligned with a given dis­ci­pline, whether one of the estab­lished fields or an emerg­ing, trans­dis­ci­pli­nary one. The cat­e­gory denotes no set of widely shared com­pu­ta­tional meth­ods that con­tribute to the work of inter­pre­ta­tion, no agreed upon norms or received gen­res for dig­i­tal pub­li­ca­tion, no broad con­sen­sus on whether dig­i­tal work, how­ever defined, counts as gen­uine aca­d­e­mic work. Instead of a def­i­n­i­tion, we have a geneal­ogy, a net­work of fam­ily resem­blances among pro­vi­sional schools of thought, method­olog­i­cal inter­ests, and pre­ferred tools, a his­tory of peo­ple who have cho­sen to call them­selves dig­i­tal human­ists and who in the process of try­ing to define the term are cre­at­ing that def­i­n­i­tion. How else to char­ac­ter­ize the mean­ing of an expres­sion that has nearly as many def­i­n­i­tions as affil­i­ates? It is a social cat­e­gory, not an onto­log­i­cal one.

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A quote saved on Feb. 26, 2013.


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