The Promise of Digital Humanities

Steve Kolowich:

Humanities research is often derided as gauzy and esoteric, and therefore undeserving of tax dollars. Amid financial crises, humanities departments at many public universities have been razed. But even amid cuts, there has been a surge in interest in the digital humanities — a branch of scholarship that takes the computational rigor that has long undergirded the sciences and applies it the study of history, language, art and culture.
“While we have been anguishing over the fate of the humanities, the humanities have been busily moving into, and even colonizing, the fields that were supposedly displacing them,” wrote Stanley Fish, the outspoken professor of humanities and law at Florida International University, on his New York Times blog in June.
“Everyone loves digital humanities this year,” said Bobley, citing the praise from Fish as the cherry on top of a steady stream of positive media coverage that has buoyed public interest in humanities research that uses new, technology-heavy approaches to distill meaning from old texts and artifacts.