‘An Electric Current of the Imagination: What the Digital Humanities Are and What They Might Become’

The above lecture is by Andrew Prescott, incoming Head of the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s London. Having met Mr Prescott at two small conferences held in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, and judging by the abstract provided, I can only assume the event will be an extremely interesting one, not least because Mr Prescott is an extremely knowledgeable and entertaining speaker.

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“Why Digital Humanities isn’t actually “the next thing in literary studies”.

“It’s flattering for digital humanists to be interpellated by Stanley Fish as the next thing in literary studies. It’s especially pleasant since the field is old enough now to be tickled by depiction as a recent fad — as Fish must know, since he tangled with an earlier version of it (“humanities computing”) in the 80s.

Fish seems less suspicious of computing these days, and he understands the current contours of digital humanities well. As he implies, DH is not a specific method or theory, but something more like a social movement that extends messily from “the refining of search engines” to “the rethinking of peer review.”

In short, Fish’s column is kind enough. But I want to warn digital humanists about the implications of his flattery. Literary scholars are addicted to a specific kind of methodological conflict. Fish is offering an invitation to consider ourselves worthy of joining the fight. Let’s not.”

Extract from “The Stone and the Shell” blog, written by Ted Underwood,who teaches 18th and 19th century literature in the English department of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Europeana Regia

“January 2010 marked the beginning of the Europeana Regia project, which will digitise 874 rare and precious manuscripts from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, with the collaboration of five major libraries located in four countries and the support of the European Commission.

The project is expected to run for thirty months (January 2010 to June 2012) and will draw together three collections of royal manuscripts that are currently dispersed and which represent European cultural activity at three distinct periods in history: the Biblioteca Carolina (8th and 9th centuries), the Library of Charles V and Family (14th century) and the Library of the Aragonese Kings of Naples (15th and 16th centuries). These manuscripts will be fully accessible on the websites of the partner libraries and will also be included in Europeana.”

John Naughton’s Top 10 books about the Internet

John Naughton is the author of the excellent A Brief History of The Future (which was the first book I picked up when beginning my research into the digital humanities) and has recently published From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg: What You Really Need to Know About the Internet (which is awaiting me on my desk at home). Here is a list of the books he says we should be reading about the internet. 

Get to it!

Profile for Academic Writing Assignment (or, the awful moment when you realise you’re not God’s gift to essay writing)

One of the features of my first year of PhD research is that I am expected to attend postgraduate training sessions. This training is now an integral part of postgraduate education in the UK, and endeavours to provide learners with “generic methods and skills which address the needs of researchers in the modern academic environment and prepare them for their future careers”. In addition to workshops and core sessions intended to instill the necessary skills for a life in employment, it aims to provide writing skills that will help when writing up our research.

To this end, as part of our summative assessment for this module, a written analysis and presentation is expected. The written assessment is self-reflective, commenting on what we believe we have gained from our participation in the module and identifying its most useful aspects.

In my report I concentrated upon my first two written pieces of work, parts of which I have shared with you on this blog previously: “What Have The Digital Humanities Done For Us?” and “Electronic Beowulf and the Digital Chaucer: The Development of the Digital Humanities.” I observed that my writing style (which I’d always assumed was perfectly adequate) had in fact stagnated, and I was not taking into account the changing audience to my work and the variety of different writing frames (report, journal articles, blog posts) that I would be writing in as part of my research.

It is sobering to assess your own work and to find it wanting, but the purpose of the research skills module is to ensure that you are capable of critical reflection, and to acknowledge that your performance will potentially need enhancement.

The report has now been submitted: all that remains is the presentation. I will let you know how I get on…