The “Digital Humanities”—Whazzat?
Unfortunately, there’s no one-sentence answer to this question yet. The term “Digital Humanities” describes a field still defining itself. For some guidance, however, you can refer to these articles that wrestle with that very question:
- What is Digital Humanities? at DH Answers, a forum co-sponsored by the The Association for Computers and the Humanities and the Chronicle of Higher Education’s ProfHacker
- “NITLE Launches Digital Humanities Initiative” announcement from the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE)
- “Why the Digital Humanities?” by Brett Bobley, Director, Office for Digital Humanities, National Endowment for the Humanities
This one’s a little easier. THATCamps are “unconferences” that seek up upend (and hopefully thereby improve) the standard model for academic conferences. The first was sponsored a few years ago by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Since then, due to excitement among participants and generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the THATCamp model has spread around the country and around the world. THATCamp LAC will be the first THATCamp to focus on the Liberal Arts College community. For a full description of what a THATCamp looks like, and the philosophy that grounds the movement, visit thatcamp.org. The key principles that make a THATCamp are:
- There are no spectators at a THATCamp; everyone participates.
- It is small and intimate, having anywhere from 25 or 50 to no more than 100 participants. Most THATCamps aim for about 75 participants.
- It lasts no more than two days.
- It is not-for-profit and inexpensive; it’s funded by small sponsorships (e.g., for breakfast) and by passing the hat around to the participants. Attendance should be free, but attendees can donate to cover expenses if they want.
- It’s informal: there are no lengthy proposals, papers, or presentations. The emphasis is on discussion or on productive, collegial work.
- It is also non-hierarchical and non-disciplinary: THATCamps welcome graduate students, scholars, librarians, archivists, museum professionals, developers and programmers, administrators, managers, and funders; people from the non-profit sector, the for-profit sector, and interested amateurs.
- Participants make sure to share their notes, slides, and other materials from THATCamp discussions before and after the event on the web and via social media.