More on Inclusive Discourse in DH

While reading Rosenzweig and Fitzpatrick’s chapters this week, I was still pondering last week’s question: how can we make our discourse about DH more inclusive? Reading with this topic in mind, I thought of various possibilities to make DH more inclusive, two of which I will discuss here.

1. Fitzpatrick discussed briefly that digital or online scholarly texts have the possibility to be more than just text. For some reason, this example struck me. Despite reading Planned Obsolescence which is a text full of comments from others, I hadn’t envisioned an academic text online that would be much more than text, at least not one I would create. Suddenly I envisioned a text that could be full of interactive maps and images, like those we have discussed the past couple of weeks. Considering this epiphany (of sorts) in concert with inclusive discourse, I thought that these texts would not necessarily be “bigger, better, or faster” (to borrow from Annette) than traditional texts, but they would be new, original, and engaging. While the word new may not seem inclusive to some, at one time every theory was new and people did embrace them. Rather than running from the idea that DH is new, or trying to hide that it may be new I think we should consider the positive aspects of its newness and originality. We all know that “original work” is very important to scholars in the humanities (especially those like me who deal with “old” texts that have been studied before). Why not discuss the additional opportunities that DH provides for scholars to create original work? We can show how DH can be an extension of the already valuable work scholars are doing.

2. The second aspect of both Rosenzweig and Fitzpatrick’s chapters that made me reconsider inclusive discourse was their insistence on the important social aspects of DH. Namely, that DH relies on social networks for sustainability. As scholars, we are already part of social networks based around similar interests, an aspect of our professions that many scholars enjoy. In fact, in many ways this social network is vital to the traditional way we perform scholarship. The traditional method of reviewing the literature on your topic, citing your sources, and performing peer review of an article are all ways in which we perform in this social network on a routine basis. Since scholars are already familiar and comfortable with such functions of the social network, it is not such a stretch to explain how DH can be part of this already existing network.