New Trends in eHumanities- ENS presentation 2015

Jacqueline Hicks (KITLV), Wolfgang Kaltenbrunner (Erasmus Studio), Susanna de Beer (Leiden University) and Serge ter Braake (VU)


February 12, 2015. 15.00-.17.00 hrs. At the eHumanities Group.

A Humanities Voice in Digital Humanities?

What does the humanities bring to the digital humanities? In practice, the humanities show up in collaborations through the nature of the content that computational methods are applied to and the guiding research questions. The use of digital tools inevitably leads to quantitative results, making it difficult to find gaps in the type of analyses that humanists or interpretive social scientists find interesting for the results generated by computational techniques. This explains what Ramsay (2003 “Toward an Algorithmic Criticism”) refers to as the general sense of a failure to penetrate the mainstream critical discourse of the humanities where “our graphs and tables, and in general, our methods are perceived as some sort of positivistic last stand…”

Is there room for a deeper engagement between the humanities and computational sciences? Are there any methodological principles from the humanities that can be incorporated into the design of digital tools and environments? What could that look like in practice?

This discussion will hear from three humanities scholars involved in digital humanities projects – Jacqueline Hicks, Susanna de Beer and Serge ter Braake. Each will give a ten minute presentation reflecting on their experience of working with computational techniques, followed by a discussion moderated by science and technology studies researcher, Wolfgang Kaltenbrunner.

These are big questions which few researchers from any of the disciplines involved in digital humanities have the time or space to properly consider. A good polemic which may help initial reflection on these issues is Drucker, Johanna. 2012. “Humanistic Theory and Digital Scholarship” in Debates in Digital Humanities. Matt Gold (ed).