DH 101 (Classics)

Christopher Johanson

University of California at Los Angeles

In the span of a decade, Digital Humanities (DH) became a discipline.

Its extraordinarily rapid growth and its simultaneously interdisciplinary and liminal nature raise difficult questions for the digitally inclined student of antiquity.  A job advert that notes “…with Digital Humanities Experience” belies a highly fraught university-specific landscape.  What can be done to prepare our students, and ourselves, for the current wave of DH opportunity? This paper outlines a theoretical approach to the integration of the Digital into the study of Antiquity by underscoring a first principle:

To “do” DH is a) to accept it as an independent discipline, and b) to approach it as an interdisciplinary field analogically similar to Classics.

Part I. Accept it as field. While internal debate among practitioners continues concerning the “fieldness” of DH, the proof is evident in scholarly practice: DH journals abound; programs and departments exist; there are jobs; and there are communities of practice, which focus on numerous interdisciplinary sub-disciplines. The consequences of the disciplinary stability of DH are simple: there is no easy approach to the acquisition of its necessary skills and knowledge.

Therefore, to work in, to build for, or to create projects that engage with an established discipline, albeit a young one, requires homework.

Thinkers have been building the intellectual infrastructure for years.

Much must be read and, where appropriate, cited.  Part I of this paper surveys the names to know, traditions to understand, and conversations to study, engage with, accept, or dismiss.

Part II.  Training as a classicist can help.  DH = Classics, mutatis mutandis. “DH Experience” is the functional equivalent of “DH, generalist,” and, as an encapsulation of a field, similar to “Classics, generalist.” Very few can master all specialties present in the modern, interdisciplinary field of Classics, but many can be conversant in most, and all recognize that specialization in at least one sub-field is requisite. So for DH. Moreover, interdisciplinary, professional training in Classics can effectively dovetail with that of DH. Part II explores possible points of intersection between training in Classics and DH, highlighting both the advantages that a classically trained student might have, and the potential lacunae that DH training might fill.

Session/Panel Title:

Digital Classics and the Changing Profession

Session/Paper Number

24.5

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