What is DH?

The task of defining digital scholarship and/or digital humanities is very similar to trying to define love, happiness or leadership. It is very hard to find one definition for DH or DS because like love, it means so many things to so many different people and it can look like so many different things. In our sessions this week we discussed what projects were considered DS and which weren’t. Sometimes we all agreed and other times we debated whether or not something was DS.

Is Wikipedia DS?

Is metadata DS?

The list goes on.

Instead of focusing on what is or isn’t DS/DH I think it is important to understand its values and how impacts scholarship. That being said, here is my definition:

Digital Scholarship is an umbrella term that encompasses all scholarship that is done digitally. It is about using digital tool to enhance scholarship making it accessible to people regardless of their background.

 Digital Humanities is very similar to digital scholarship, but instead it focuses on digital scholarship in the humanities.

I believe that DS and DH have great values. Amanda Visconti defines them very well in her piece A Digital Humanities What, Why, & How (DLF eResearch Network Talk). At times I believe these values are more like ideals, because some of the values cannot be completely achieved. When we discussed our DH values we, as a cohort, couldn’t all agree and I think that is reflective of the DS/DH community. Different people value different things.

I believe that DH should value many things including:

  • Openness and Accessibility: People should have access to materials and should be able to contribute to scholarship regardless of their race, gender, class, socioeconomic status, etc. There shouldn’t be a price tag on scholarship or digital tools. (Note: I also realize that it if was not going to liberal arts college like Gettysburg, if I wasn’t encouraged my by parents to apply for this and if I needed to make more money of the summer I would not be able to participate in this fellowship or learn about DH. I have worked really hard to be here, but I also recognize my position of privilege that has gotten me here. As DS continues to value accessibility and breaks down the hierarchy, these conversations need to be had because the hierarchy still exists in some ways.).
  • Collaboration- I believe that collaboration is extremely important. Having others to help you along the way from our cohort, the committee, to the DS twitter world and the DS Slack Page, community is essential to this work. I think valuing openness goes hand and hand with valuing community and collaboration.

Food for thought: I think everything is political whether it intends to be or not. These are a few questions I have:

Is DS/DH political? If so, in what ways?

In what ways can aspects of DS be considered political?

Is DS liberal or conservative?

Does DS happen to embody different liberal and/or conservative values, or is it intentional?

How do the people that make up the DS community impact the values of DS?

Maybe I am looking for a connection to politics that is nonexistent. My answers to some of these questions might be different from yours. Some of these questions might not have answers. I think our answers, and our feelings towards the questions I just posed are an outcome of how we as individuals define digital scholarship and how we see it impacting the world.


Christina Noto
My name is Christina Noto
And there’s a million things I haven’t done
But just you wait, just you wait

Hi my name is Christina and I am a rising junior at Gettysburg College. I am a History major and a Political Science and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies double minor. Last summer I was a Kolbe Fellow and created a digital project using Scalar about the experiences of Women at Gettysburg College from 1965-1975. You should check it out! HERE is the link!

This summer I will be analyzing a few pieces of sheet music from the Civil War Sheet Music collection. I will not only analyze the lyrics, but also the lithographs on the cover. My goal is to create a website that is both interactive and informative.

Defining the Undefinable

Defining a nebulous term like “digital scholarship” or “digital humanities” is quite hard. Digital Scholarship comes in many shapes and forms, and people hold different personal definitions of the subject. In readings by Amanda Visconti, Lisa Spiro, and Paige Morgan, examples of digital humanities projects were given, and they all varied greatly. Digital scholarship or humanities have potential to be a continual group reading of James Joyce’s Ulysses, an archive of tweets about current social events for posterity, and many other things. Spiro’s in particular focused not on the format, but the content and values that went into creating a project, like collaboration and experimentation.  No two DH projects are alike, however, they all use similar key elements to guide their work.  The combination of these aspects creates DH, which I define as   

an endeavor that utilizes digital tools and platforms to enhance creations, are open to a larger community and perspectives, and are informed through risks and experimentation.

All this said, this definition does not encompass all of my thoughts on the subject or the many definitions that exist elsewhere. DH and DS are still being cemented as ideas, and it will change as time goes on. I do not expect this definition to remain as it is by the end of this fellowship. Like any good DH project, this definition has the ability to evolve and change as more knowledge and perspectives inform me throughout this experience.

Even with a definition, it is hard to really pin down exactly what DH is. Projects can have elements of DH in them, but that does not mean they are DH outright. We had a lengthy debate about whether the creation of metadata for digitized collections counts as Digital Scholarship. Certainly, elements are there, and it is explicitly digital. Those who worked in Special Collections, however, argued against its inclusion. They argued that what they did, what choices they made, were not explicitly DH, as they did not intend them to be.

That is most important- intent. As long as a project incorporates values and aspects of DS and DH with the intent to be so, it can be considered so. It is counter intuitive to debate the exact nature of digital scholarship and humanities. The field encompasses so much, and is still changing, still becoming. That is why it is hard to define. Over the summer, I will look to values of DH to guide my work. I will collaborate, experiment, and utilize the community built here. In the end, my project may not fit all definitions of DH, but that should not discredit it. The intent and values driving DH research are complex, individualized, and make it hard to define. They also make DH what it is, and I look forward to working with it. I will refine my definition, learn how to connect and communicate, and let the values drive me to do better work. DH is going to be great. 


By Emma Lewis


My name is Emma Lewis, and I’m one of the new 2017 DSSF cohort. Over the summer, I will be working on a “choose-your-own-adventure” style audio tour of the streets of Gettysburg. My goal is to show a greater depth of history in these streets outside of the typical history shown. How I will do that is still uncertain. After just one week here I am rethinking my format and what tools can be used to communicate these ideas! On top of regular research, I am going to experiment with how to present information, testing how it is received in different formats. I want people to have the best experience possible navigating whatever I create, which requires me to be open to failure. With what I’ve heard from last year’s cohort, I can look forward to plenty of that, and it will be amazing.

Who is this kid? What’s she gonna do?: Brittany Russell, ’19

Hi everyone! My name is Brittany Russell and I am a rising junior and political science major and Middle Eastern studies minor at Gettysburg College. I am the music director at Gettysburg College’s radio station, 91.1FM WZBT, and it may surprise you that I’m working with art this summer.  My project analyzes twelve lithographs from Les Maitres de l’Affiche collection from the 1890s, and are currently in Gettysburg’s Special Collections, tracking their journey to Gettysburg and the inspiration. I’m thrilled for the opportunity to be here, and I’m excited to learn more about digital humanities and scholarship!

Digital Humanities? What Are Thooooooose?

Digital Humanities is an extremely tough thing to define. Every digital scholar has their own unique definition, and I can assure you that my definition is likely going to be different from those in my cohort and even the senior fellows. I define digital scholarship and humanities as:

the practice of engaging with the scholarly community to collaborate and learn more information to create better, more engaging, and more approachable projects for the education and archival of all.

Even then, that probably doesn’t cover everything involved, and that’s a pretty broad definition. So, let’s break it down:

  • the practice of engaging with the scholarly community: What I mean here is that there are no boundaries on the internet, and that makes it superbly easy to engage with other scholars via Twitter, Slack, and more. I can ask questions to other people who have a better idea of what they’re doing, and share my story with other amateur scholars so they can learn from the mistakes I make along the way. That’s the real treasure.
  • collaborate and learn more information: Again, I can ask questions about my project and my research from people who are usually too up in the ivory tower to be truly approachable. It levels the playing field in the interest of making sure that knowledge is accurate and shared with all.
  • to create better, more engaging, and more approachable projects: The primary goal of scholarship is to learn. One thing that scholarship gets critiqued for is that scholars are too busy being those darned liberal elites to be approachable and engage with others to share their knowledge. Since our projects will be on the internet, anyone can look at them (even Donald Trump or David Hasselhoff). Our projects are meant to share what we’ve learned during our ten weeks here, and that means that they can’t be sloppy, inaccurate, or too complicated to use and process that information.
  • for the education and archival of all: Welcome to the internet, where someone somewhere has an archive or screenshot of your website and nothing ever gets deleted. Therefore, people can always learn from your website, but it can also save and archive information that may be disappearing. For example, Laurie Allen at the Pennsylvania Library Association Digital Humanities workshop discussed how she’s working to preserve climate change data and make it still accessible despite those at the top trying to delete it and deny that climate change is real. That’s a separate issue, but her work is important to maintain that learning experience for the world to use and still fight climate change. As far humanities goes, I’m going to use the example of digitization projects that preserve high quality scans of documents, artwork, and more. While that is absolutely not a substitute for keeping the actual piece being digitized as well preserved as possible, it still makes a piece more accessible to the general public so they can learn from it too.

I may have more to add to this at the end of ten weeks. We’ll find out together, shall we?