For this week’s DH Monday Edition, we introduce a new feature: our first guest blogger! We plan to continue periodically inviting submissions from members of the UO community for posts regarding DH. If you would like to submit a post, contact Matthew Hannah at email@example.com.
Our first guest blogger is Molly Hover. She is an undergraduate in the School of Journalism and Communication, focusing on advertising. She is currently taking Dr. Helen Southworth’s “Introduction to Digital Humanities” class in the Robert D. Clark Honors College, so we’ve invited her to post about her thoughts on DH at UO.
By Molly Hover
I told myself I knew digital tools via the technology I used, and I understood the humanities so Digital Humanities (DH) would be fairly straightforward. I was right and wrong. When I started my DH class, HC 434: Introduction to Digital Humanities, through the Clark Honors College this fall, I didn’t fully understand how complicated and rewarding the study of this field would be. It is, like I thought, straightforward in the sense that the humanities are housed on digital platforms. I got that part. What I didn’t think about was how technology could expand the varying concentrations in the humanities exponentially by using the web—and all the knowledge and tools available with it—to aid scholars and researchers on their quest to find, visualize, and/or publish new knowledge.
Some of these concentrations include literary analysis, interactions with data (such as the Twitter usage of a favorite celebrity or author) graphing and mapping historically or socially relevant information (Digital Harlem), or a new way to conceptualize schoolwork (Lacuna Stories). What these sites have in common is that they are, as Professor Helen Southworth describes, “scholarly productions.”
As a journalism student with a concentration in advertising, I’m fairly comfortable interacting with digital platforms, but, before my DH class this term, I had not considered the possibilities of working with data—even historical data—to make new connections. As a student, DH is a valuable resource, and, as a future curator of media, it’s an asset and a connection to culture and history. In fact, this DH blog is about curation in much the same way many DH sites are. Common features of DH sites are embedded blogs and comment boxes which enable users to interact with others at the same time they are interacting with and analyzing data.
Many of these users are students like the ones in my course and come from a variety of backgrounds and majors—journalism, human physiology, computer science, Italian, etc. These various concentrations help them make connections in DH.
Darian Fencl, a Psychology major and Spanish minor, had never heard of DH before Professor Southworth’s class and believes the most defining quality of DH is “the desire to share.” In fact, most people in our class have experienced their first introduction to DH because of the course—myself included—yet have recognized the value of it immediately.
Journalism major Francesca Fontana said, “I have experience with digital publishing…so digital experience, but nothing with the DH.” For her, the most valuable DH site the course has surveyed has been annotating tool Lacuna Stories because it demonstrates how “the DH at its most basic is helping us.”
As a Human Physiology major, DH may seem a tangential course to study, but Varneet Brar whose first introduction to DH was also Southworth’s course said, “They [DH] make access to information more efficient and broaden the scope of knowledge available”—for any major. In fact, this idea of accessibility was referenced by every student interviewed.Although I’m still learning, I view my introduction to DH as eye opening because it has given me tools in a multitude of formats and concentrations that I can use to gather knowledge and, when the time comes, perhaps publish some for others as well.
Readers, stay tuned for the next installment from our student guest blogger, Molly Hover, and keep a lookout for future guests.