What is Digital Humanities?

What is Digital Humanities?

Digital Humanities is the critical study of the intersection between digital technologies, disciplines in the Arts and Humanities, and scholarly communication.

The University of Reading’s approach to Digital Humanities sees it as a discipline in its own right. As such, work that engages with Digital Humanities is inherently interdisciplinary.

There are two main ways in which you might engage with Digital Humanities methods and principles in your research:

  • the use of digital tools and software for interpretation and analysis of research questions in the Arts and Humanities, or for the collection, manipulation, or visualisation of Arts/Humanities research data
  • the application of critical traditions in Arts and Humanities research to digital technologies, including those used for research and how the use of this technology changes the research outcome

Digital Humanities work does not have to be a single type of research – and it probably isn’t what you think it is. Adopting digital approaches that require collaboration with a wider range of experts does not mean replacing the researcher; indeed, Arts and Humanities expertise is even more crucial in digital projects, to ensure that questions about how research is done in the new digital environment are answered by as wide-ranging a community as possible.

Issues fundamental to Digital Humanities as a discipline include:

  • Accessibility and inclusivity
  • Sustainability (including environmental sustainability)
  • Reproducibility of data and open access
  • Transparency and documentation practices
  • Research ethics
  • Infrastructure and equity
  • Critical approaches to technological advances

The DH Hub aims to help you develop research projects that employ novel and critical applications of digital technology to shape research questions, methods and outcomes in a fully integrated way.

Even if you do not use digital methods in your own research, we invite you to think of Digital Humanities as a vehicle by which to ask new, innovative, but also the oldest and most fundamental questions about your discipline, at an exciting time when the landscape of research is changing.

Who gets to tell stories? What gets digitised – in other words, which sources are made available? Who hears the stories of people with no resources to fund making them available?

These are all questions that we, as a researcher, owe it to future generations of students and colleagues to take seriously.