The first question usually asked of anyone in the Digital Humanities is “What is that?” This anthology endeavors to answer that question both in terms of its history and in terms of its self-definition, drawing upon sources and resources that are freely available online. A notable feature of the Digital Humanities is the extent to which the conversation in the field takes place outside formal avenues of traditional academic publishing; as a result, this anthology draws as much on influential blog posts and articles published on the web as it does on journal articles and other such formal open-access publications.
The first section covers the history of the field, then known as “humanities computing”, from its origins in the 1940s through the great shift in the early 2000s that is represented by the switch to the label “digital humanities”, down to the present-day endeavors to integrate humanistic critical theory more closely with computational practice. The second section can be seen as an elaboration of critical moments within the last decade of that history, as the field continues to wrestle with its own definition. Included are a few of the most influential works – a mixture of blog posts and formally published pieces – that illustrate the debate over membership in, or occasionally even leadership of, the digital humanities.
The anthology concludes with a selection of resources for anyone wishing to get started in the field – tutorials for practical skills such as XML markup or regular expression parsing, online textbooks that serve as primers to the field, and a novel and effective platform for communication and scholarly exchange that serves both as community noticeboard and peer-reviewed journal.