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Final Reflections and See-Yous

These past eight weeks seem to have gone in the blink of an eye. This summer, I learned more than I have any other summer, and have evolved both as a person and as a researcher. As I look back on my first post, I realize just how much.

When writing “My DH” (my first reflective post), eight-week younger me didn’t quite know what she was talking about; she had read up a few articles and watched a couple of videos on digital humanities, but all she knew about it was theoretical. She didn’t know what a DH project would entail and didn’t have the slightest idea what doing one would be like. But she was eager and open to learning new things. 

In my first post, I had written that “The digital humanities are so much larger than just digitalized humanities research, and I’m only beginning to realize that”, and this statement could not have been truer. Throughout the course of these eight weeks, I have seen the vast scope of digital humanities, and its potential, not just for advanced presentation of scholarship, but also for change-making. Digital humanities tools are great in number and are versatile in that they can be adapted into so many ways to present data in the way the author hopes. 

For me, DH was an opportunity to learn more and to push myself and my creativity by taking up a challenge that scared me. It was “a diverse space that allows collaboration, constant feedback, and experimentation of a variety of ideas and techniques”, and 8-weeks later these still hold true to me. Working closely with the whole committee and gaining continuous feedback (detailed ones at that) proved to be especially helpful. As the weeks went by and I got to explore more and more new tools, I became even more open to experimentation and using new ideas, even when I did not know if they would be practically applicable. I think I internalized some DH values after a couple of weeks, which is why I found myself being increasingly open (and seeking) other people’s feedback and criticism. 

I have seen myself evolve as a researcher who is much more organized and holistic in viewing any project right from the start, and as a person who is much more open to challenges, setbacks, and criticism. 

As I wrap up my final thoughts, I cannot forget to thank the incredible cohort and committee for being kind individuals who have helped me grow this summer. Thank you to R.C., John (especially), Mary, Kevin, and Amy for being kind and helpful teachers. And to the cohort-Ana, Ben, Carlee, Nicole, and Theary- thank you so much for being stand-up individuals who made me feel listened to! I can’t wait to see you all (committee and cohort) in the fall! Till then, Goodbye and have a great end of summer!

Written by Shukirti Khadka, Gettysburg College Class of 2024, and part of the DSSF 2021 Cohort.

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Who makes knowledge?

As the scholarly world moves increasingly into a new era of digital humanities, it takes on new challenges, issues, and questions. New forms of increased digital connectedness usher in “openness” at a maximum by increasing accessibility for gaining new knowledge, but also for forming knowledge. In open access areas such as the vast web, anyone can speak and anyone can “publish”. On the one hand, this provides opportunities for so many informed individuals out there who have not had the chance to be affiliated and published through institutions of higher learning (which can be quite exclusive and long-term). However, this also creates the problem of credibility. How do we know that this work is legitimate if it has been “published” by someone who has not even undergone credentialing through the hands of some credible institution? 

Meanings of what the word “publishing” is and what it speaks of have undergone a great change in recent years. Burdick et. al state, “To publish” is to make something public, to place it within a sphere for broad scrutiny, critical engagement, and community debate” (86). When thinking of publishing, we normally envision a book being printed out and picked up by groups of people interested in a certain genre or field. However, in the digital world such “publishing” would be through the web, not in paper, and the “public” the work is being distributed to would be exponentially larger. Accessibility to the larger public is at an all time high, making it so that almost anyone can “publish” anything. 

The breakdown of the rigid lines between who the author is and who the reader is has been blurred, and the bar to enter the publishing world of the web is extremely low, allowing almost anyone to act as an author regardless of the status of their credentials. Blog posts from mothers are so popular nowadays that if one Googles anything about problems their young children are going through, they even beat websites that provide actual medical advice on the way up to the top of the searches. The opportunity to “publish” in this new way though can give opportunities for so many out there. A quick example of this can be Anna Todd’s “After” series that started out as a Harry Styles fanfiction on an open-to-all site called Wattpad. The digital book series was a massive hit on the site/app, raking in well over 100 million views. The books were even published in print, have become bestsellers, and have even been turned into movies. This success story epitomizes the potential of open authorship. 

Despite all of its potential for greatness though, open authorship can be quite dangerous, especially as it breaches upon subjects covered in academic scholarship. When anyone can write anything on the internet and pose it as a researched fact, misinformation and lies can be spread in a rampant manner, and can actually be believed by others, causing many complications. For decades, institutions of higher education have acted as the hands that ensure the credibility of not only the authors but also of the work that has been published. Institutions only publish and promote works that have been authored by well-decorated (and learned) professionals that have been vetted out, and have been peer-reviewed by equally competent professionals. In doing so, they ensure legitimacy but become extremely exclusive, allowing opportunities to only a certain few. 

For decades, knowledge credentialing has been controlled solely by institutions of higher learning, and they have taken monopoly of knowledge production. However, as Digital Humanities (and almost every other field of scholarship) is entering the digital world, it is experiencing vast changes that it never had to deal with before. In an age where the aforementioned monopoly is only decreasing, how can legitimacy be improved? The problem is extremely large-scale and seemingly neverending. However, I believe some of the power lies in us readers and writers of scholarship. In an age where misinformation persists, it is our job to be responsible readers and authors, and equip others with the knowledge to also bear that responsibility. 

Written by Shukirti Khadka, Gettysburg College Class of 2024, and part of the DSSF 2021 Cohort.  

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A Reflective Reflection

As we finish with the DSSF 2021 Program, I look back at the Digital Humanities and how my perception of them has changed over the last eight weeks. On our first post, I wrote:

“On the surface, the digital humanities appeared pretty straight forward to me; the combination of humanities based works and technology. This means that the subject matter could be based in subjective works (the arts, culture, history, etc.) but the resources or hosts for this research could be on digital platforms like websites or computer files. As a student who frequently studies subjects in the field of humanities, I was initially nervous to look into the digital humanities since I had a somewhat low knowledge of technology.”

While I have a deeper understanding of both the Digital Humanities and technology as a whole at the end of these eight weeks, I would still go on record to say that I am not a technology wizard (please don’t make me fix your computer issues, it won’t end well), and as mentioned by Quinn Dombrowski this week, there are no experts in the world of DH. Even though I learned and grew, there is still more to understand in this field.

One of the upsides about not being done with the Digital Humanities is that I can still use digital tools in everyday life. Hopefully, in future courses, extra curricular events, or community activities, I can build a story map, timeline, or other visualization that can help the goals of my group.

It is also important to discuss community within the Digital Humanities. This past summer, I’ve had the pleasure to work with five driven students and build a tight community within the cohort. While all our work was set in the virtual realm this year, I cannot wait to see the whole cohort in person.

From left to right, Nicole Parisi (’23), Theary Heang (’24), and Carlee Mayo (’22), the in person members of the cohort, outside Musselman Library.

This experience was also made amazing with the invaluable help of the Digital Scholarship Committee, who guided us through the Digital Humanities. From day one, this team they built had to work on a microproject (the Albert Chance Collection), and all of us who were new to the world of DH certainly had to adapt to these new principles quickly. Ultimately, I feel as though our microproject was the perfect way to set us up for success on our individual projects.

Like I mentioned in my first reflective post, the world of DH allows for humanities and subjective based topics to be explored in a technological setting. Since I am not a digital genius, the context of humanities based technology allowed for me to expand on my skills by using my own interests in theatre and television.

Ultimately, as we draw to a close of this fellowship, I look back at the skills I have developed, and look ahead towards ways to expand these abilities. I am thankful for the community we have built and my guides along the journey. This may be the end of the fellowship, but it marks the beginning of my adventure with the Digital Humanities.

Written by Nicole Parisi, Gettysburg College Class of 2023 and member of the DSSF 2021 Summer Cohort.

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Reflecting on My DH Experience

Sitting down to write this post is bringing on a lot of emotions; eight weeks of this program don’t feel like enough, now that we’ve reached the end. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for DSSF and this opportunity, and to explain how much fun this learning experience has been.

At the beginning of this project, we all wrote a blog post explaining our definition of DH and what it meant to us. I think each member of the cohort would agree that we didn’t know what we were in for, and would also agree that our concept of DH was minimal or average at best.

Specifically, I remember writing about how the Digital Humanities are different than writing a paper: “DH gives me the power beyond merely writing a paper because of how accessible and versatile it can be. The average person finds reading a paper or essay tedious or dull – but DH changes all that. Digital Humanities can reach a larger audience, appeal to a greater group of people, and provide a more interesting and interactive method for learning and teaching.”

While I agree with eight-week-ago Carlee, I also think she didn’t have any experience in what she was talking about. Working with such a variety of people to create my final project (although “final” is just a temporary state of being) gave me an entirely new understanding of just how flexible and interactive DH can be. Additionally, the ability to give a final presentation to such a responsive and inquisitive audience on Zoom was the perfect indicator of what makes the Digital Humanities so great – the goal of my project could never have been portrayed to an audience if not for the digital tools and virtual format of the site overall.

My definition of the Digital Humanities has also shifted from one that is impersonal and passive – “The general definition of digital humanities is taking work and research already done in the humanities field, and then presenting it to your audience in digital ways. These digital resources can vary from websites and software to virtual maps, timelines, audio and video, and graphs/charts.” – to one that is vibrant, active, exciting, and personal.

Now, I know that DH means people and their passions, the exploration of interests, and the convergence of knowledge and digital tools. In a more personal way, I’ll never be able to engage with online exhibits or other examples of DH without thinking of this incredible summer and how much I managed to learn and grow.

To the Digital Scholarship Summer Fellowship committee and fellow students in our cohort, I’d like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Each member of our little band of DSSFers gave 110% of their time, hard work, and passion in order to make this summer a complete success – and an awful lot of fun. #DSSF21 has been an experience I will never forget!

Without further ado I’ll be signing off one final time! Thank you for reading and following along with our incredible journey this summer.


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Final Reflection on Digital Humanities (DH) and Goodbye

As I am writing this final post, it is the last day of the Digital Scholarship Summer Fellowship 2021. Summer has gone by so fast, sometimes I have not noticed that it’s coming to an end. One of the reasons is that I really enjoy working on my individual project, having a daily meeting and discussion with the cohort, and other activities we did that I lost track of time. It was the best summer I could ever asked for because it has not only transformed my perspective about Digital Humanities in a good way, but it has also helped me building a meaningful relationship with a group of people that I have grown to love and care a lot about.

But most important of all, it’s the knowledge and perspective about Digital Humanities (DH) that I have learnt and accumulated over the summer. I remember the very first reflective post I did about what DH is, and how much I understand about it then. Well, over the summer, there are a few things I have come to realize and further understand that I would like to highlight here.

First, it is the application of DH. When I first discover the term “DH”, I had thought that it can only be applied to the humanities field of studies; for example, history, sociology, art… However, I now know that DH can be applied to different field of studies whether it’s social science or hard science. Moreover, DH is highly collaborative, especially between traditional research in social science and application in hard science. I remember one of the speakers who talked about his work creating 3D model and virtual reality of Spanish theater. To make it happen, the project need contribution from history and architecture experts to consult the academic aspect of it, and computer science experts to build the 3D and virtual reality.

Second, it is the life of DH. I understand that DH project is continuous, and there is no end to it. It is just simply abandoned by the project owner. However, what I have never thought about is that some days, all these DH projects will become an archive that future generation would look back on it and says, “that’s old stuff”. It also makes sense that these projects might disappear one day because there is no space on the internet to put it up. That’s when the Internet archive come into play. Have never heard about the internet archive before, I am fascinated by what it does, and how we can make use of it.

Third, when it comes to DH, it is more about the process of doing it rather than the result. The talk by Ms. Quinn Dombrowski about the failure of DH helps me settle with my project and feel better about what I did this summer. Through the whole summer, I have enjoyed the process of doing my project a lot, especially of all the things I learn about my research in general, my protagonists’ stories, my research skills, and the relationship I have developed over the past 8 weeks.

I appreciate everything I have encountered for these past two months, and I am going to embrace everything I have learnt and earned through this process. Until we cross path again, goodbye temporarily, DH and DSSF.

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Revisiting DH

It’s hard to believe how quickly this summer went by. Over the course of Digital Scholarship Summer Fellowship 2021, we as a cohort and community have explored the digital humanities through group discussion and lived experience. A summer’s worth of work has reinforced that digital humanities is truly what we make of it.

In my first reflection post, I explored Amanda Visconti’s definition of DH in A Digital Humanities What, Why, & How (DLF eResearch Network Talk): “Research, teaching, & learning about literature, history, the arts… (the humanities) in digital ways (building & using software, websites, datasets…).” This definition still feels like the perfect “elevator pitch” overview for those who are confused on the terminology associated with DH. The variety of ideas and digital tools found within each of our cohort’s individual research projects demonstrates just how different DH can be or mean to those in this community.

As I mentioned previously in my first post, there are five main values of digital humanities which Lisa Spiro spoke about in her book chapter “This is Why We Fight: Defining the Values of the Digital Humanities.” These five values are: Openness, Collaboration, Collegiality/Connectedness, Diversity, and Experimentation. All these values were meaningful to me throughout my work this summer. However, the value of experimentation most closely guided me when I approached my individual research project. I encouraged myself to integrate different tools, look at sources from multiple angles, and analyze how my website would be navigated and understood.

I went into this summer ready to dive into my research project. I was sure of my abilities to learn the tools of the trade. I initially understood digital humanities as another academic discipline; one that had a recognized definition and correct practices associated with it. I can’t adequately describe how thankful I am to have that preconceived notion shattered. I have come to know DH as an ever-evolving opportunity for thoughtful work available to everyone with the means and ways to contribute to it. That said, access to the internet and technology will always be a challenge connected to the inclusivity of DH.

As a DSSF cohort, we have had the opportunity to explore what DH means to each of us, through engaging in it every day. My exploration has taught me to experiment, and to challenge how I create effective research. My understanding of DH has changed over the course of the fellowship as my interactions with it have changed. Furthermore, how I approached constructing a data visualization differed after discussing the importance of user experience. I learned not only how to present my research so that it would be most effective, but also why I should do so. Eight weeks of exposure leaves me feeling that I’ve only touched the surface of what DH has to offer. I end my experience with DSSF 2021 feeling more curious about what the digital humanities are and mean than I did starting out. While I certainly feel more knowledgeable about what DH can do for individual researchers, and how to create and present the research I have done in the realm of DH, I understand that my experience is only one small part of the greater mosaic that is DH. But after all, isn’t that the point?

This post was written by Ben Johnson, Gettysburg College Class of 2022, and member of the Digital Scholarship Summer Fellowship Cohort 2021.

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21st Century digital technology, and knowledge sharing

What happened when everyone speaks up and writes about the things they believe in? Would that make them the author of the work? And how are those work being shared in the 21st century world?

In the past, writing about your belief or the cause you stand for may strictly be confined in a journal or notebook that might not be disclosed. Sometimes, if they wanted everyone to acknowledge what they speak or write, they would publish those work in a form of book or turn it in to the newspaper. However, nowadays, reaching out to the public about your idea or belief, takes only a minute thanks to technology. Social media like Instagram or twitter receive a lot of popularity among people todays, and those are the place where stuff is written and shared. Before, in order to write a paper or academic article, you have to be a high educated person, people or organization of influence/credibility; however, with technology nowadays, everyone can be an author, and everyone can write and publish.

If you have a belief, or new knowledge you want to share, all it takes is a few minutes to write in your Facebook status, or even better, create a WordPress website for free. People are writing and creating knowledge every waking hour, and thanks to that, everyone can find answers to their questions all over the internet. I suppose that’s what I am doing too, trying to create something new that I think might benefit or at least try to answer people’s questions. I am talking about my digital humanity project.

I am thankful that people are creating new contents and digital tools on the internet and made it available for everyone. There are things I read on the internet that are very useful for class and my everyday life. There are also contents, photos, and other material that are made free to use (in public domain), and it has been really helpful for my own educational projects. For example, the photos from the government and archives from newspaper. WordPress and many other hosting sites are made free for users, easy to use, and even are regularly updated. All these availabilities made it possible for more people to go online, and start creating new things, hopefully in a way that can be shared.

However, even though I support the idea that people share their knowledge and voice freely on the internet, I am also concern about the spread of false knowledge and fake news that has been circling the society. As the notion of sharing become widespread, it’s easy for people to confuse what right and wrong, and unintentionally incite society. That’s when the credential and copyrights of institutions comes in to play because different organization give its credibility. Knowledge sharing is important, but so is its credibility, and that is why I believe the institution should control their credential, unless the sharing is for the public good and for education purposed.

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Authorship of Knowledge

As I take the time to stop and reflect after these six weeks, I’m impressed by how well Chapter 3 of Digital_Humanities by Burdick, Drucker, Lunenfeld, Presnet, and Schnapp deftly discusses the transformation of how we view knowledge, authorship, and how the two affect the Digital Humanities. It is also cool to notice how their discussion can be applied to my own experiences with DH this summer.

I’d say one of my favorite aspects of DH is the dedication to open and accessible information, with the goals of making knowledge available to everyone – not just those with position, money, or power. On page 79 of Digital_Humanities, the authors write, “Peer-to-peer sharing and open-source models of production transform “property” into something created, edited, and monitored by the ever-expanding public but ultimately owned by no one,” emphasizing this goal of openness.

I am reminded of a Tweet that has circulated on several modes of social media for the past three years or so, written by Dr. Holly Witteman on the accessibility of scientific scholarly works:


Here, Dr. Witteman makes the case that people can get around paywalls to scholarly works by reaching out to the actual authors themselves. Although it does provide for the open transfer of knowledge, it cannot be denied that it also opens up questions on creatorship and ownership.

As I was pondering the question of this reflection post – “What happens when anyone can speak and publish? What happens when knowledge credentialing is no longer controlled solely by institutions of higher learning?” – I am inclined to be cautious in responding solely positively.

On one hand, the boundaries around knowledge have oftentimes been misused and abused. Examples like obscene textbook prices and prohibitive paywalls on academic journals only serve as gatekeeping devices. This does not promote or encourage widespread knowledge.

However, I also feel that it’s important to give credit where credit is due. In addition, I agree with the authors of Digital_Humanities when they write, “As much as we celebrate the global proliferation of networking, it is important to bear in mind that network technologies do not inherently promote democratic values and community-building. They also create the conditions of possibility for violent backlash, community surveillance, and possibly even genocide,” (81). So, as with many things in life, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’.

There are certainly pros and cons to these issues. I think that the greater ability to speak and publish leads to some wonderful outcomes that encourage collaboration, connectivity, greater understanding, and greater knowledge. In addition, it adds to an open-ended setup of expansion in which a continuous chain of events is set off, from which new ideas are sprung, which inspire new ideas from those new ideas, and the chain continues.

I’ve even seen this with my own project, for which I’m taking ideas and scholarship from others and transforming them or utilizing them in new ways, or ways that more closely fit the narrative of my project. I could only hope that others might do the same with my work some day!


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Reflection #3

The Expansion of Knowledge

Anyone can create knowledge. Knowledge is multi-dimensional. The advent of technology not only fostered more transmission of knowledge, it also allowed more individuals to “create” it. This reflection will seek to answer Burdick, Drucker, Lunenfeld, Presnet, and Schnapp’s question found in Chapter 3 of Digital Humanities: “Who can create knowledge, who monitors it, who authorizes it, who disseminates it, whom does it influence and to what effect?

The digital humanities offer a unique access to knowledge and information that had not existed decades and centuries earlier. In popular academic disciplines in the humanities such as history, literature, and philosophy, well-known scholars had the power to control knowledge in their respective fields. With such a localized control of knowledge, the humanities as they existed before the explosion of computer technology focused on scholars and knowledge centers such as universities. The time, resources, and skill required to become a knowledge “creator” generally prevented everyday individuals from being able to create widely available knowledge. This extended to the arts as well, most readily seen in the renaissance period of Europe. As far back as Ancient Greece and Rome, philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato dominated their field for thousands of years. With time came the printing press, which made knowledge much more accessible to people who had to work the land for their living. The rise of technology has in turn made knowledge more available and its creation more tangible for a wide variety of individuals.

Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, circa 1665, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. This famous painting, known as the “Mona Lisa of the North,” represents how technology has led to greater exposure over time of individual creations.

Computers have become the ultimate tool for the access and creation of knowledge. Anyone who owns a computer can use it to quickly research any wealth of topics, whereas compiling research in decades prior entailed going to a library. Additionally, individuals can use their computers to create knowledge on social media, blog posts, and through website building. I believe that time has proven that knowledge is still monitored, authorized, and disseminated by those individuals and institutions that most readily produce it and support it. The work of a noted historian of the 18th century on the material culture of that time will more likely be supported and disseminated over that of a blog post from a middle school student on that same topic.

The influence of knowledge can be measured through understanding its consumer. Human beings generally use knowledge to form their perception of the world around them, and how they want to navigate it. My experiences in both a traditional humanities setting, and my more recent dive into the digital humanities has reinforced that the internet provides the entire world with a vast expansion of accessibility to knowledge, and provides more people with the ability to create it. Nevertheless, how it is disseminated and how it influences individuals largely depends on how we collectively deem creations of knowledge as important. More knowledge brings more perspectives which adequately represent the diversity of people and cultures that makes up our world. This expansion should be appreciated because of its vital effect on challenging what we believe is true. The digital humanities prove how the expansion of knowledge is undoubtedly tied to technology and innovation.

This post was created by Ben Johnson, Gettysburg College Class of 2022, and member of the student cohort for DSSF 2021.

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Reflective Post #3

The Digital Humanities is going to be constantly developing. The reasons behind this fall among the lines that the subject is still relatively new and will advance as long as technology does. This means we will see uncertainties about the Digital Humanities in everyday life and will encounter new questions and possibilities about them. Since the digital world is far more accessible in the modern era, the knowledge it shares also becomes easier to reach. People can work communally and on different platforms to share this information. This social and academic open access also forms questions about intellectual property.

While reading about the Digital Humanities, Burdick, Drucker, Lunenfeld, Presner, and Schnapp posit questions about open access knowledge through technology. One of these questions (as referenced in the prompt for this week’s reflective post) is:

“What happens when anyone can speak and publish? What happens when knowledge credentialing is no longer controlled solely by institutions of higher learning?”

I tried my best to construct a somewhat decent/ coherent thought about this subject. Obviously, the situation is far more complicated than what I can put into a blog post, but this was my attempt at it.

As previously mentioned in the prompt, the fellows are not being paid to do research, but to create knowledge. While this adds a level of formality to our work, there was nothing stopping me from investigating my topic with a self directed approach had I not been part of this program. I am fortunate that I have the capabilities to work with the library, have a committee supporting me throughout this program, and the ability to do this program full time. While it would have been possible to do this project without all the resources that the library has offered to me, the final project would likely look completely different from what it will be currently. The timeline of my work would probably be different. The entire outcome would not have the same advantages as I currently have.

While I think it is a good thing for people to speak and publish knowledge with the current technological tools, I acknowledge that the road to this shared knowledge will likely face different obstacles. Therefore I posit that even if anyone can speak and share knowledge, it would not be received the same way. It would be up to the user to determine what knowledge they want to learn or use. While it is a good thing that this knowledge can have multiple outlets, there is always going to be a question of the quality of this knowledge. A person getting their information from a social media post would have a far different outcome from a person reading an academic webpage. Of course, this becomes more complicated when we look into cases of intellectual property. It’s also important to note that there is a social and academic aspect to consider with this topic. Many of these pieces of knowledge can be created or altered collaboratively.

Collaborative work in a digital setting also makes for a more accessible project. There are multiple points of view when it comes to sharing this knowledge.

Ultimately, I think knowledge was made to be shared, and technology is one of the right ways to share it. It is a good thing that this knowledge can be created and shared publicly and easily, even if it is subject to flaws. While it may have its imperfections, I believe that they can be solved as the technology and social culture surrounding the Digital Humanities advances.

Written by Nicole Parisi, Gettysburg College Class of 2023 and member of the DSSF 2021 Summer Cohort.