Although the term “digital humanities” has been floating around for over a decade, a precise definition is difficult to pin down. In fact, debates over how to describe the field and mark its borders predate the label itself. Still some sort of definition is needed to move forward, so many DH-related books and journals settle on working definitions while acknowledging that a static definition can’t fully explain the nuances of an evolving field of study. Here are excerpts from several working definitions of DH that serve to illustrate the diverse and dynamic nature of the field:
This list of milestones in the development of the Digital Humanities comes from John Unsworth's 2012 blog post What’s “digital humanities” and how did it get here?
1949-1970: DH in Computing Centers
1949: Father Roberto Busa began his index of every word in the works of St. Thomas Aquinas (11M words); visits Thomas Watson and enlists IBM
1963: Roy Wisbey founded the Centre for Literary and Linguistic Computing in Cambridge to support his work with Early Middle High German Texts.
1970: The first instance of what later became the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing conference is held at the University of Cambridge.
1973-1992: DH and Scholarly Societies
1973: Founding of The Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing
1978: Founding of the Association for Computers and The Humanities
1985: Perseus Project begun at Harvard
1986: SGML Standard Generalized Markup Language specification released
1991: Electronic Beowulf Project
1992: H-Net founded
1992-2004: DH and Libraries
1992: Etext Center founded at Virginia by Kendon Stubbs
1999: MITH founded
2003: HASTAC founded
2004: Blackwell Companion to Digital Humanities
2005-2012: DH Mainstreamed
2005: The Blake Archive approved by MLA’s CSE
2006: MLA publishes Electronic Textual Editing
2006: ACLS report on Cyberinfrastructure for Humanities and Social Sciences
2007: NEH DH Start-up grants
2007: Centernet founded
2008: CLIR Survey of Digital Humanities Centers
Digital Humanities Bibliography at the Duke’s Digital Art History & Visual Culture Research Lab
In February 2019, John Taormina launched the Digital Humanities Bibliography with assistance from Alexander Strecker, Katherine McCusker, and Michael O’Sullivan.
Search for more:
Search for a variety of books on issues and trends in Digital Humanities in the Duke Catalog, Search TRLN (Duke, UNC, NCCU, NCSU), and at Worldcat ( a union catalog of academic libraries), using the search term suggestions on the Resources page in this guide.