We've begun to make the first steps toward institutionalizing the Digital Humanities at the University of North Dakota. The statement here is a rough first draft that I drew up with a colleague in the English Department. We intentionally tried to create a statement that was different from the many good examples available at established digital humanities centers across the US in order to force ourselves to define in an accessible way the basic terms and parameters that define the rather expansive concept of the digital humanities. This statement with some modification will be circulated to administrators and potential donors to help us establish the intellectual and conceptual foundations for this kind of work on UND's campus.
Digital Humanities · Digital History · Digital Archaeology
at the University of North Dakota
New Approaches to the Humanities.
Digital Humanities is a term that refers to the use of digital technology to explore the traditional subjects of humanistic inquiry. In doing so, Digital Humanities continues to explore and challenge the core values of academic humanism, while also embracing the emerging digital technologies that enable the study, teaching, and dissemination of texts in innovative ways. Digital Humanities both complements and expands the traditional ways that scholars and students of literature, languages, history, and archaeology interpret, analyze, and influence the world around them. The Digital Humanities cultivate skills that not only shed new light on old texts, but also to inspire different ways of thinking, reading, and viewing our culture.
New Texts, New Methods, New Goals.
Digital Humanities seeks new answers to traditional questions in the humanities through a whole range of techniques, methods and approaches.
• The Digital Humanities includes converting traditional media (texts, photographs, video) into digital formats that follow recognized guidelines in order to make it available to scholars and students across campus and the world. So far at UND, work by Digital Humanists had made some of the earliest records of the University and other unique
collections available to a wider public through the internet.
• It includes processing quantitative data collected over the course of archaeological or archival field work. Scholars at UND have long experience in analyzing complex datasets ranging from 19th century ship manifests to archaeological data, using sophisticated computer programs.
• It also includes the production of new digital texts, video, and audio that explore and redefine the limits imposed by more traditional media. Already at the University there are weblogs, digital video, podcasts, photographic projects, and interactive texts that seek to redefine how scholars interact with their students, the community, and their peers.
• It recognizes the need to preserve traditional texts by migrating them to digital media, as well as archiving various “born digital” texts. By embracing and developing specific protocols and standards for the creation and preservation of digital media, the Digital Humanities ensure a global audience for fragile or geographically limited materials.
Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century.
The Digital Humanities recognizes that teaching and learning are ongoing requirements in the rapidly changing world of new media, technology, and digital approaches to texts and culture. Thus, teaching the broad theoretical approaches to understanding the new media and the specific technical skills necessary to produce digital media is at the very core of the Digital Humanities project.
Cultivating the Future.
The commitment to the Digital Humanities ensures that the University of North Dakota maximizes the visibility of existing Digital Humanities projects, cultivates the scholarly activity in this vibrant and innovative discipline, and encourages the teaching of skills necessary to compete in a world increasingly dominated by digital technology. A Center for the Digital Humanities would form a focal point for the energies, technologies, expertise, and infrastructure required for the University to embrace the challenges of humanistic inquire in the 21st century.