“The Humanities, Done Digitally” by Kathleen Fitzpatrick is a Looking Glass
This article intrigued my thoughts because it was something I felt like the theme was something I had possibly recognized before, but in some other form. I thought about it for some time, and the conclusions that I have come to are that there may be two ways to define the digital humanities.
Fitzpatrick draws a metaphor that she couldn’t decide on her grammatical choice for using “what are the digital humanities?” or “what is the digital humanities?” I think that both uses are valid depending on what part of the subject is being defined.
To define the field as a whole, the question “what is the digital humanities?” is necessary to use. There have been many instances of the digital humanities throughout history. Fitzpatrick describes that the more current field of the digital humanities is often defined by the more recent development of digital technologies that have an effect on traditional forms of “humanist inquiry“. Has not this been going on for centuries? I can only assume that the invention of the printing press in the fifteenth century must have caused an uproar for many humanists questioning the matter of how this new and strange technology will affect people who have been painfully handwriting their works for millennia.
The changes in which technology develops are not separate from the humanities, but are part of the ongoing change that this field has always been a part of this field. The humanities arguably is a field that exists largely because of the changing technology that continuously puts new ideas forward.
The second way to define the digital humanities is to ask the question “what are the digital humanities?”. This definition is more contemporary and looks into field from a more digital world. This refers to the digital mapping that Moretti researches, or the expansion of building that Ramsey refers to in his lecture “On Building”. This is how humanists seek to make sense of their world by using the current implements that exist in the digital world. This field considers how the humanities will develop going forward.
Fitzpatrick said it best when she stated, “The state of things in digital humanities today rests in that creative tension between those who’ve been in the field for a long time and those who are coming to it today… between making and interpreting”. (“The Humanities, Done Digitally“)