Digital Humanities

Digital Humanities in the Library

What are these Digital Humanities? Where should I start?

Without question, you should start here:

What is the Digital Humanities and What’s it Doing in English Departments?” by Matthew Kirschenbaum. This short article gives a succinct overview of the field and provides a list of the “major” institutions and scholars of DH.

You can also look through some current issues of Literary & Linguistic Computing published by Oxford Journals and The Journal of Digital Humanities.

Once you’re finished with that, here are my favourite books to read:

Matthew Jockers, Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History (2013). Like Franco Moretti, Jockers explores what we can analyze in large-scale literary corpora.

Franco Moretti, Graphs, Maps and Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History (2005). This short book shows what can be accomplished with literary data.

Susan Schreibman et al. A Companion to Digital Humanities (2008). (Be sure to read Stephen Ramsay’s “Algorithmic Criticism“). An electronic version is available freely online.

Ray Siemens et al.A Companion to Digital Literary Studies (reprint 2013). An electronic version is available freely online.

And when you’re ready for a bit more theory:

Mark Greengrass et al., The Virtual Representation of the Past

Here are some books recommended by DH Q&A Members

Where can I ask digital humanities questions?

You can ask all of your Digital Humanities Questions at DHQA (Digital Humanities Questions & Answers) supported by the Association for Computers and the Humanities.

What are the MLA “Guidelines for Evaluating Work in Digital Humanities and Digital Media”

Where are the digital humanists online?

The Humanist Discussion Group.  “Humanist is an international online seminar on humanities computing and the digital humanities. Its primary aim is to provide a forum for discussion of intellectual, scholarly, pedagogical, and social issues and for exchange of information among participants. Humanist is a publication of the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO) and the Office for Humanities Communication (OHC) and an affiliated publication of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).”

Twitter. If you’re not on Twitter, you really need to be. Don’t get me wrong, I thought that I hated Twitter too; I thought it was just a place where people talked about what they had eaten for lunch. Disabuse yourself of that notion. Digital Humanists use Twitter like a personal technology news feed. Start reading, and when you’re ready, start Tweeting. Many digital humanists also have their own blogs. Here are some of my favourites:

Dan Cohen

Amanda French
Stephen Ramsay
Geoffrey Rockwell

Is collaboration important? How do we ensure everyone gets credit for work?

Everyone counts. This is a major concern in the digital humanities. In fact, MITH (Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities) is working on a “Collaborators Bill of Rights,” which seeks to codify best practices for documenting work. Digital Humanities is at its core a collaborative enterprise; we must, therefore, strive to recognize the labour of everyone involved with a project.

What are tools I can use in the classroom? Or my own research?

Tapor 3 is a great place to find almost every tool available for research and play. Geoffrey Rockwell curates a list of great tools with which to start your DH journey:


A great place to begin: Voyant Tools 

Want to play with text? Voyant is the place to start. It’s also a great tool for classroom use since it’s web based and runs on some great servers that can handle the load. 


For Better for Verse (a tool to teach scansion and poetic terminology from the Scholar’s Lab)


Modernist Journals Project (teaching site)

Where Can I Learn HTML, CSS, markup, &tc.?

HTML, CSS, &c.

Learning HTML can be easy and fun. My favourite book on learning HTML is O’Reilly’s Head First: HTML, CSS and XHTML. I have not found a better book for learning HTML. If you want work online, the W3School has great online tutorials for HTML, CSS, XML, and scripting languages.

TEI (Text Encoding Initiative)

TEI is the XML heart of the digital humanities. Here are a couple of good TEI tutorials:
TEI by Example

Women’s Writers Project @ NortheasternUniversity (a helpful page with lecture notes and slides). This is a great resource for both beginners and advanced users.

What are some tools I can use right now?

  • Anthologize “a free, open-source, WordPress-based platform for publishing” (WordPress).
  • Juxta Commons (Collation and Comparison) “Juxta is an open-source cross-platform tool for comparing and collating multiple witnesses to a single textual work.”
  • OMEKA (database) “Create complex narratives and share rich collections, adhering to Dublin core standards with Omeka on your server, designed for scholars, museums, libraries, archives, and enthusiasts”
  • Scripto (markup) “Scripto is a light-weight, open source, tool that will allow users to contribute transcriptions to online documentary projects.”
  • TAPOR (Text Analysis Portal for Research)
  • Zotero (Bibliography) The best (and free) citation manager out there

What digital humanities organizations are out there?

Digital Humanities Projects/Organizations (items in bold link to a host of toolkits for digital humanists)

Modernist Studies

19th-Century Studies


What About Conferences, Camps, and Training?

  • DHSI: Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Victoria. One of the best summer training opportunities in the world
  • The Red Island Repository Institute (RiRi): Prince Edward Island. Learn how to manage digital collections using Fedora Commons Repositories and Islandora
  • THATCamp (international, repeating): The “unconference” that Digital Humanists can’t miss

Am I missing something? Let me know in a comment below

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