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Digital Humanities as an Academic Department
Panel on ‘Global Perspectives on Digital Humanities Expertise’
Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London
Digital Humanities 2015 Conference, Sydney/3 July 2015
03/07/2015 01:48 ENC Public Talk 19 February 2013 1
Challenges of definition
What is our definition of ‘Digital Humanities’?
Factors affecting nature of a DH centre:
What do we mean by ‘centre’?
‘Digital Humanities’ vs ‘Digital Scholarship in the Humanities’?
Connection to/grounding in other humanities disciplines
Fertile but uneven terrain
DH = dynamic field: scope for innovation / instability
There are challenges of definition which make it hard to present
meaningful boundaries of scope and to reach general conclusions
Centre with full academic
What outcomes do we want?
What will the future landscape of knowledge creation look
like in the humanities?
What academic outputs will be produced in this new
Scholarly outputs of the future
Role of tools, models, datasets and other ‘non-traditional’ by-products &
Global perspectives on DH expertise
• Alternative definitions of the humanities, and digital
scholarship more broadly
• More research needed into architectures of participation in
the digital humanities which foment the acquisition of
expertise and enable a culturally balanced reception of its
• What are the geopolitics of academic production in DH, and
how do they affect efforts to build expertise?
Evolution of Department of Digital Humanities (DDH)
Academic department since 2002; name change in 2011
Shift in focus
– From emphasis on research grant capture (which allowed us to
develop a lot of expertise in digital methods and tools
– To an academic department with balanced portfolio of research and
Teaching programmes now central
– Four MA programmes
• Digital Humanities
• Digital Culture & Society (with KCL CMCI)
• Digital Asset and Media Management
• Digital Curation (with Humboldt)
– PhD in Digital Humanities programme
– BA in Digital Cultures opens in September
– Much stronger focus on teaching, key cultural change for department
– Logic of the REF (UK Research Excellence Framework)
– Greater professional formality in overall process, and closer alignment
in job titles and career paths with traditional academic and
– Career paths are less defined by latest state of funding grant capture
and more closely identified with an academic programme with its
own strategic focus
– Tension practical grounding element (in taught courses) / ability to
articulate complex research questions involving digital technology
How to define DH expertise/challenges
No ‘correct’ answer
Emphasis needs to be not on learning particular
technologies, but on agility, mobility, creativity and critical
Practice grounded in theory, and theory tested in practice
Emphasis on interpretation, scholarly enquiry, not
Closer interaction with other areas of digitally mediated
practice and scholarship
Department of Digital Humanities
King’s College London
03/07/2015 01:48 ENC Public Talk 19 February 2013 8