You might have heard of Digital Humanities (DH), but what really is it?

It is a discipline that critically studies how digital technologies and methods intersect with humanities scholarship. It also applies such technologies and methods to answer interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research questions.

DH makes us think differently about our research and helps us to represent and communicate ideas in new innovative ways.

The University of Reading Library
The University of Reading Library, where the Digital Humanities Hub is based.

The Digital Humanities Community of Practice

Established in September 2022, the Digital Humanities Community of Practice (DH CoP), led by Dr Mara Oliva, stands as a beacon of innovation within our University community, driving research excellence, fostering ambition, and nurturing a culture of experimentation and collaboration among all research themes.

Through a diverse range of activities and initiatives, the CoP aims to increase awareness and understanding of DH within the University, while enhancing its national and international profile in the field. It serves as a platform for open dialogue on DH issues, facilitates the exchange of expertise, and provides essential support for both ongoing and prospective projects.

Through networking events, methodological workshops, grant development support, and training sessions (in collaboration with the DH Hub) as well as fostering internal research synergies and cultivating external partnerships, the DH CoP is as a cornerstone for the advancement of digital scholarship and collaborative research at Reading.

The DH CoP works closely with the Digital Humanities Hub. The Hub, which is based in the Library, provides practical and sustainable support for DH projects. Its cross-service team combines expertise from the Library’s Research Engagement team, University Museums and Collections Services, Digital Technology Services and Research Services with that of academic colleagues, in order to support research that falls within the broad and dynamic discipline of DH.

Dr Mara Oliva: Championing innovation

As Digital Humanities Academic Champion, Dr Mara Oliva’s job is to raise awareness and knowledge of Digital Humanities within the University of Reading and enhance the University’s national and international reputation in the DH field through strategic external partnerships. She provides mentoring for project development and grant applications and delivers training in collaboration with the DH Hub.

Mara Oliva
Dr Mara Oliva, the Digital Humanities Academic Champion.

“Being the Academic Champion has been one of the best professional experiences of my career,” said Dr Oliva. “It has given me opportunities to work and connect with people across interdisciplinary research areas.”

“Reading’s colleagues are doing outstanding innovative research and have been very generous with their time in sharing their expertise – that is the key to the DH CoP’s success.”

Digital Humanities and Artificial Intelligence Conference

In June 2024, the University will host its first international conference on the topic of Digital Humanities and Artificial Intelligence (AI). In collaboration with the AI CoP and the Turing Institute, the conference theme aligns with the DH CoP’s mission and invites us to explore the rich intersections between Digital Humanities and Artificial Intelligence. Reflecting on Reading’s research strengths in Cultural Heritage, Ethics and Synthetic Media, the discussions promise to illuminate pathways, challenge conventional boundaries, and inspire innovative research.

aerial view of Whiteknights Campus at the University of Reading
Whiteknights Campus, University of Reading.

The keynote address will be delivered by renowned scholar Dr Barbara McGillivray (King’s College London and Turing Institute).

The conference will be held in collaboration with Digital Humanities Quarterly and proceedings will be published in a special edition of the journal edited by the University of Reading Digital Humanities CoP.

At a time when the landscape of research is changing, the University of Reading is at the forefront of shaping the future of digital humanities research. With pioneers like Dr Mara Oliva leading the change, the possibilities are endless.