Class notes (1): What is Digital Humanities?

with 3 Comments

These are the class notes for the “Introduction to XML and editing ancient documents” seminar I am doing this summer semester at LMU, Munich.

As this is the first class it will begin with an introduction and an overview of what I plan to cover throughout the 14 weeks. The idea is to engage in a discussion about the participants’ expectations to the class and adjust the plan according to this. I will try to get an idea of the fields and material each participant is working with, so as to tailor the examples used later in the class accordingly. Furthermore, I would like to get an idea of the participants’ overall skill-set and expectation for the practical tutorials.

The following part of this class is about Digital Humanities and is divided into three sub-questions. The first is: “Digital Humanities, Is it the thing ‘where you use computers’?” (Forster 2010) and here I talk about why I call myself a Digital Humanist and what it means to me to work in this field. The second question is: “Why did they build the Web?” and is inspired by an online course by Dr. Charles Severance called “Internet History, Technology, and Security. This part discussed the beginnings of the Web in academia and how the Web fits into academic research, where both are aimed at sharing information in one way or the other. The third question: “Is it just me, or?” looks at other Digital Humanists and their definitions of what Digital Humanities is. This class will be rounded off with a discussion about what the participants think Digital Humanities is and how this fits into their own research on ancient documents.

The above is what I wanted to cover and do in the class and I feel that it was accomplished. Nine participants turned up and there was a good mix of staff and phd students who all work with ancient documents in one way or another. Below are some links to the references, videos and quotes I used. We rounded off with a good discussion, where each participant told me, in short, how they work with digital tools, projects or data and what they hope to get out of this seminar. I am looking forward to the next class where we will explore “how we bring the digital into Humanities”. Here I have promised a look (a hands-on look) at how other projects in the Humanities (and not only ancient documents just yet – that’s for the third week) have dealt with the “digital” aspect.  So if anyone is siting out there with a cool digital project in the Humanities that they think we should have a look at – then please do write a comment below and I will have a look at it.




Bodard, Gabriel and Simon Mahony (2010) Digital research in the study of classical antiquity. Ashgate.

Flanders, Julia, Wendell Piez and Melissa Terras (2007) Welcome to Digital Humanities Quarterly. Digital Humanities Quarterly, 1 (1).

Forster, Chris (2010) I’m Chris. Where am I wrong? HASTAC blog.

Ross, Claire (2010) Me, museums and digital humanities hopefully not a needle in a HASTAC. HASTAC blog.


Please let me know in the comments if I talked about something, you wanted to know more about, which I have forgotten to put in the notes. 



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