DHCS Chicago 2019- Tiny DH

Hello digital humanists! November has really flown by and as we’re winding down this semester, I want to talk about a conference I had the opportunity to attend in Chicago!

The DHCS or the Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science was held on the weekend of November 9th at the University of Chicago. There were guest lecturers from all over the country including, Madiha Zahrah Choksi, our previous Digital Humanities Center Lead.

Throughout the conference, lecturers spoke about the crisis of academia and the increasingly precarious position held by the humanities in a rapidly digitizing age. In the face of this, universities and departments aim to create large scale digital humanities projects to assert the relevance of the humanities today. As Moacir P. de Sá Pereira explained in his lecture, this impulse isn’t always the best practice. The increase in scale leaves smaller institutions without the resources to create these big projects out of the narrative entirely.

I visited the Chicago bean!

Is there space for hopeful humanists to dream today?

The answer is a resounding, “absolutely!” Moacir spoke highly of “Tiny DH,” projects that are small in scale but allow us to specialize and think deeply about the humanities. Just because a project is small doesn’t make it any less valuable than large scale projects. This is something the Barnard Digital Humanities Center embraces and wants to share with others.

At the DHC, we do our best to teach students and faculty to think big but to not get overwhelmed. Digital scholarship provides us with incredible opportunity, but also immense responsibility from an ethical standpoint. There is great strength in admitting that a project is too large to be done ethically with one’s resources, there’s even more strength in learning to not give up and limiting scope when necessary.

Digital scholarship is like any scholarship, it’s a process. As scholars we work with the information and resources we have and limit scope when necessary, we adapt our conclusions when presented with new information, and we consider the “how” in research to be just as important as the “why.”

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