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This entry is part of the American Studies and Digital Humanities 2012 Roundtable.
The term digital humanities includes a lot of things—visualization and mapping, text analysis and topic modeling, corpus building and preservation, the gathering of data, and the production of metadata, and the computational exploration of all of the above. Though all of these approaches are digital, they bear the same kinds of methodological differences that play out through our traditional fields; further, these approaches are often put to use in the service of strikingly different intellectual questions. To say that the “digital humanities” is a field is not terribly different, to my way of thinking, from saying that the humanities is a field: yes, we are all interested in reading culture; everything beyond that—what we mean when we say “reading”; what we mean by “culture”—varies enormously.
So thinking about what something as broadly conceived as the “digital humanities” can bring to American Studies requires thinking about that one unifier—the digital—and what it adds to the enterprise. And where I intend to focus my attention during this session (probably unsurprisingly, given the work that I’ve been doing for the last several years) is on how the spread of digitization and the increasingly networked nature of the humanities are affecting the ways that scholars communicate with one another. Perhaps more importantly, though, I believe that American Studies has some crucial contributions to make to those new forms of digital scholarly communication, and I hope that our conversation during this session can help lay the groundwork for fruitful collaborations to come.By Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Sun, November 11, 2012 - 4:40 pm