What happens when those researching and teaching in the humanities get bitten by the computing bug? A strange and fascinating condition called "Digital Humanities".
In a nutshell, Digital Humanities is the application of computers to help investigate, archive, and present humanities texts through digital media.
In practice, much Digital Humanities activity is around "digitization" of text and images -- that is, converting analog artifacts into digital equivalents for mass distribution. These initiatives are often student-friendly, and many a class has found itself being assigned a digitization project in support of some larger project (e.g. the Diderot Encyclopedia translation project).
Beyond its value in archiving and publishing, digitization also opens a path to automated artifact analysis -- which can be extremely useful in grappling with large amounts of information.
And then there is the study of the computer/humanities collision itself. In its more introspective moments, Digital Humanities considers the impact of the computer on the disciplines to which it is applied, and likewise the impact the humanities have on computer science.
Digital Humanities at Wheaton
There are a number of Digital Humanities projects going on at Wheaton, including:
- Kirk Anderson had his students translate sections of the Diderot Encyclopedia from French into English, and publish them online. more
- Domingo Ledezma had his students annotate historical maps with images and text describing the 1519 voyage of Ferdinand Magellan
- Katherine Tomasek had her students transcribe victorian journals and account books and mark them up with TEI, the lingua franca of Digital Humanities for written text