Looking at the title, Digital Humanities, one can infer many different ideas about what Digital Humanities actually is. I’ll give you my interpretation. I signed up for the class because the class dealt with the humanities and as an English major, the humanities definitely interested me. The ‘digital’ part of the title gave humanities another twist, and the idea of a class focusing on the humanities going digital seemed even more exciting. So I signed up for it. After the first class, I realized we weren’t simply going to learn about the ways in which the humanities are going digital; we were going to be practicing those ways ourselves.
I can’t really explain what I actually expected, coming into the course. Maybe I expected the professor to stand in front of the class, like usual, and teach us all the ways in which the humanities had gone digital. Maybe she would teach us all of the different forms, all of the different mediums that apply to the humanities, etc. Since I’ve completed the course, I can tell you, it was entirely different from what the title suggests. Digital Humanities is so far from telling and lecturing. It is more about collaborating, involving, practicing, sharing, and researching. Throughout the class, we not only learned about all of these actions that are part of digital humanities, but we put to use these actions as well. We created mock Digital Humanities grant proposals, which proposed research tools that could better the humanities. We became involved in transcribing generation-old texts through the use of text encoding. We discussed, gave our insights, read, shared, and critiqued with each other on a class blog, which helped us practice our technological skills.
I think this class was a true taste of what Digital Humanities is. Digital Humanities is learning and accepting the digital ways of our world, and putting them to use, to form innovations so great, they can better not only the humanities, but the world. Digital Humanities is not about lecturing, and spitting out knowledge to students, so they can merely memorize it and recite it back. It is about learning what everyone has to offer, and using these offerings as tools to expand research possibilities. It is about collaborating with classmates, professors, and the public, to show that technology really can help the world. Technology can provide so much intellectual significance if used properly.
Therefore, Digital Humanities should most definitely be taught at an undergraduate level. There is no denying the technology-filled world we live in. Technology is everywhere. There is no escaping it. So we can either tell undergraduates to ignore the technology, and stay stuck in their ways, or we can help them harness the intellectual potential technology provides, and help them use it as a tool to form and share new ideas. By providing students with a Digital Humanities class, universities will be doing just that. They will be creating students who are ready to do whatever it takes to succeed, and be original in this digital world. They will providing students with a class that teaches them how to use technology as a tool, as a form of research, as a building block for their ideas. I think Digital Humanities is pertinent and is extremely necessary for molding students into citizens who can do more than survive in this digital world; they can use this digital world to create, teach, and enlighten.