POST: The Dividends of Difference: Recognizing DH’s Diverse Family Tree/s

Tom Scheinfeldt (University of Connecticut) has posted a recent talk, “The Dividends of Difference: Recognizing Digital Humanities’ Diverse Family Tree/s,” in which he advocates for a more nuanced genealogy of DH.

Framed by his realization that minimizing differences in digital humanities “in the name of collegiality” can be problematic (nodding to #dhpoco for its important work in this area), Scheinfeldt offers a narrative of DH that stems not from Father Busa and textual studies, but from Alan Lomax and the oral and public history that took shape in the 1940s and 1950s.

Thus, from my perspective, the digital humanities family tree has two main trunks, one literary and one historical, that developed largely independently into the 1990s and then came together in the late-1990s and early-2000s with the emergence of the World Wide Web. That said, I recognize and welcome the likely possibility that this is not the whole story. I would love to see this family tree expanded to describe three or more trunks (I’m looking at you anthropology and geography). We should continue to bring our different disciplinary histories out and then tie the various strains together.


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