Digital Humanities

Whatever it is, it's cool!

A guest lecture by Scott Kleinman /

Digital + Humanities = Computers + ???

What exactly are the Humanities?

Defition of the Humanities

“The humanities”: humpty-dumptiest of terms. Some days it means “lit crit,” other days “everything that isn’t (a caricature of) science”…

—Andrew Goldstone (tweeted yesterday)

Traditional Humanities Disciplines

Modern interdisciplinary fields draw on these disciplines but may also draw on the social and behavioural sciences.

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Originally focused on the language of written texts, now focused mostly on their aesthetic qualities or cultural roles with a strong emphasis on rhetorical persuasion.


Study of past events and ideas with a stronger evidentiary emphasis than literature.

Modern and Classical Languages

Typically a combination of literary and historical studies with a focus on languages other than English.


Exploration of the ideological framework with which we understand the world from a formal, logical perspective.

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Experiments in Defining
Digital Humanities

  1. Day of DH

A Working Definition

DH involves the use of computers for the collection, preservation, dissemination, understanding, appreciation, and criticism of objects and ideas in human cultures. DH involves a substantial critical interest in the methods for and implications of using computers in this way.

Platforms for Collecting and Disseminating Digital Objects


Social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) allow the simultaneous creation and collection of digital objects. Aggregators can pull content from multiple platforms. Commitment to preservation varies by platform.


Libraries often collect digital content by remediating physical objects into digital form. Example: the British Library's Digitised Manuscripts archive


Digital platforms for accessing cultural objects.

Hack v. Yack

Is DH about building digitial tools and resources or about using them in arguments?


  • Project-Based
  • Collaborative
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Non-Hierarchical

Components of Remediation

The Place of Scholarly Intervention

A passage from the Bodleian Library's First Folio edition of William Shakespeare's The Tempest:

The Image

The Text

More Extensive Scholarly Markup

Example: Draft Notebook A of Frankenstein (from the Shelley-Godwin Archive)


Transcribe Bentham

Digital Humanities Data

  • Metadata
  • Texts (raw text and markup)
  • (Increasingly) non-text formats

Treating humanities resources as data allows us to study them using quantitative and algorithmic methods, and to do so at scale.

Distant Reading

Distant Reading


Matthew Jockers, 500 Themes from a Corpus of Nineteenth-Century Fiction

Digital editing is about collaborating with computers.

But what do we get when we collaborate with computers?

King Arthur and his knights outside CamelotKing Arthur: 'Camelot!'
Sir Lancelot: 'Camelot!'Sir Galahad: 'Camelot!'
Squire: 'It's only model.

Digital Humanities Is a Discussion
about Digital Methods of
Analysis and Communication

Methods can be applied to born-digital materials as well as remediated materials. Example: Ben Schmidt, Gendered Language on*

Why Should You Do Digital Humanities?

  • It's a chance to cross disciplinary boundaries.
  • In the job market, combining Humanities understanding of people and cultures, communication skills, and technical know how is a ticket to success.
  • You can work to build a portfolio, not just work on assignments for a grade.
  • You learn collaboration and project management.

Digital Humanities is empowering!

Digital Humanities Projects at CSUN

The Archive of Early Middle English

(Digital Editing)


Contact: Scott Kleinman, English


(Crowdsourced Transcription)

The Winter's Tale
Danielle Spratt, English


(Computational Text Analysis)

Contact: Scott Kleinman, English



Contact: Lily Thiemens


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