Discussions in the Digital Humanities and Learning New Technologies in the Scholars’ Lab

Over the course of the Fall 2016 semester, Praxis fellows participated in weekly meetings to discuss key topics relevant to the field of the digital humanities.  At the beginning of the academic year, we considered the numerous debates about the definition of the digital humanities, relying on the collection of articles, Debates in the Digital Humanities (2016).  Digital humanities, as an academic discipline, has been a notoriously tricky field to define, and conflicting definitions abound in the literature, leading to a vast range of ways that different people understand the discipline.

After our discussions and study of the digital humanities as a discipline, we began to learn about important technologies for digital humanists. Over the course of the fall semester, we practiced using HTML and CSS, as well as some Javascript.  Praxis fellows were introduced to the Javascript library, JQuery, as well as the CSS frameworks, Bootstrap and Materialize. We also worked extensively with the version control system Git as a method for working collaboratively on projects.  None of the fellows had used Git before, and after the tutorials and practice sessions led by Scholar’s Lab staff, we attained the ability to confidently use Git for our projects.

This semester’s introduction to the digital humanities has been has helped us realize how many ways that the discipline of digital humanities is defined, with some scholars focusing on social activism, some on technological aspects, and others on the qualitative analysis of digital media.  Of course, the different angles of digital humanities scholarship can and do overlap and intersect, which make the digital humanities, as I see it, such a dynamic and engaging interdisciplinary field.

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