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Digital Humanities

Ann McCarthy and I were asked to present at a recent “CURA Start-Up Meeting,” a series of panel and workshop sessions held annually by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Every year new recipients of Community-University Research Alliance grants gather in Ottawa for an orientation; our’s was a mentorship role, sharing information, strategies, and stories about our own successful CURA–and helping to initiate further networking among an inspiring array of often related community-based research initiatives. During the course of the 2-day meeting, discussion turned frequently to issues of social relevance, of how the community-university focus (and especially the impact of the CURAs) helped make the public case for the importance of continued funding to humanities and social sciences research in Canada.

SSHRC program officers also wanted us to consider the disproportionate amount of infrastructure funding going to the sciences–as opposed to the humanities and social sciences. The available CFI funding (Canada Foundation for Innovation), which supports equipment and facilities requests, remains for many in the Arts an untapped resource. There’s some evidence that things are changing.

As noted in the article linked below, the National Endowment for the Humanities teamed up with the National Science Foundation and institutions in Canada and Britain last year to create the Digging Into Data Challenge, a grant program designed to push research in new directions. Those of us engaged in fieldwork, in gathering and analyzing transcribed interviews, images, texts, and so on, need places and equipment to store such “data” (although, in the past, we haven’t always thought of our work in these terms). Archiving our research processes and materials, however, remains a key aspect of the stories our disciplines tell.

A relatively new field, Digital Humanities, would seem to have much to say about why and how we might access support to enhance community-based research. As the article below notes, “Some pioneering efforts began years ago, but most humanities professors remain unaware, uninterested or unconvinced that digital humanities has much to offer.” Your thoughts? Do we have a stake in exploring, mapping and directing “the cultural life of information”? (Alan Liu’s provocative phrase. To learn more about Alan’s work, click on the link for his recent talk “From Reading to Social Computing” http://player.vimeo.com/video/14961931 )

Digital Keys for Unlocking the Humanities’ Riches, NY Times

Education, by Xin Li 88

See also the very useful and engaging blog “Digital Scholarship in the Humanities: Exploring the Digital Humanities

One Comment

  1. Here’s a wonderful multidisciplinary initiative (in digital humanities) from the University of Victoria: The Pacific Centre for Technology and Culture:
    http://pactac.net/

    Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

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