DH scholarship at a liberal arts college

Rereading our postings and comments so far, I must admit that I expected more interest in humanities research and scholarship through digital methods than I have seen. Of course, our primary mission at a small liberal-arts college is good teaching, and research and scholarship belong in “category 2” (our college’s term for it). Also, I fully agree that the general academic movement towards undergraduate research moves our teaching towards research methods. But do we seek digital humanities research at our liberal-arts colleges?

Molly’s faculty-librarian collaboration post suggests that collaboration provides a potential avenue for digital research. I interpret John’s digital archives as resources not only for teaching, but also for professional-level research, particularly if those resources can be shaped according to particular lines of inquiry. Scholarly work is mentioned or referred to in marlowjm’s New DH Faculty, Amy’s Finding One’s Way in DH, Blake’s Music Composition/DH, and Christopher’s DHCommons postings, but few comments follow up on the scholarship aspects of those blogs.

I’m coming to THATCamp in part as a computer scientist seeking collaborative projects in DH research. When I have talked with humanists and others on my campus about their research, we almost always find some aspect of their scholarly work in which modern-day computational capabilities can be applied collaboratively to explore field-specific questions that were formerly impractical to pursue. As the digital scholarship laboratory at the University of Richmond (see also the recent New York Times article) suggests, small colleges can compete when DH methods are applied in new directions. I think some projects along the lines of Digging into Data are feasible at liberal arts colleges. It comes down to understanding a little more about what each discipline holds. Perhaps we can have such conversations at THATCamp.

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About Dick Brown

I’ve taught computer science at St. Olaf College for 21 years, and I supervise interdisciplinary undergraduate research. I’m especially interested in finding ways to apply high-performance computing in fields that are far from the areas typically associated with computing, in collaboration with faculty and undergraduate students in those fields.