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Thaller, Manfred, Universität zu Köln, Cologne, Germany,
Sahle, Patrick, Universität zu Köln, Cologne, Germany,
Clavaud, Florence, Ecole Nationale des Chartes, Paris, France,
Clement, Tanya, University of Texas, Austin, USA,
Fiormonte, Domenico, Università Roma Tre, Rome, Italy,
Pierazzo, Elena, King’s College, London, UK,
Rehbein, Malte, Universität Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany,
Rockwell, Geoffrey, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada,
Schreibman, Susan, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland,
Sinclair, Stéfan, McGill University, Montreal, Canada,

As Desmond Schmidt’s recent posting on Humanist revealed (Humanist 24 September 2011), there have been an increasing number of positions advertised in the Digital Humanities (DH). This uptick in hiring has been, while possibly not uniform across disciplines and countries, impressively diverse. It seems that the impact of Digital Humanities as a recognized field of study is increasing.

Over the past decade a plethora of training activity in the form of summer schools, workshops, and focused training events has taken place. There has also been work in building academic programs. While the field has seen a flowering of individual seminars or modules as part of more traditional curricula over the past decade, the recent announcement of many new degree programs marks a new phase in the discipline. These degree programs, from the undergraduate to the PhD level, are extremely diverse, reflecting not only individual institutional needs and opportunities, but also national scholarly cultures and circumstances.

In Germany, for instance, the national branch of the European project DARIAH (Digital Research Infrastructures for the Arts and Humanities) is addressing current teaching issues through an analysis of DH related teaching in traditional degrees, having created a brochure on existing German DH programs (Sahle 2011), working toward a national reference curriculum, and bringing this discussion to the international level.

This session continues the dialogue begun at DH 2010 and DH 2011, as well as in recent publications (see references), around Digital Humanities education by bringing together Digital Humanities educators who have been pivotal in originating, designing, or teaching degree courses in the field. The panelists will bring a wide international perspective to the discussion in order to move beyond individual academic landscapes.

This panel will also take an historical approach. One should not forget that over a decade ago it seemed that digital humanities programs (or humanities computing as it was then known) would continue to flourish. In the status report on ‘Computing in Humanities Education: A European Perspective’, published in 1999, twenty-five degree programs of various brands of Digital Humanities were presented and discussed. Nine have survived. Of these, five represent various brands of Computational Linguistics. In two workshops aimed at an international curriculum for ‘History and Computing’ in the early nineties, fifteen study programs at European universities were discussed. Of these, one has survived as is, a second survived with a changed focus. Of at least six Italian degree courses created in the nineties, only one has survived. It is also unfortunate, that only three institutions in the UK are continuing their Digital Humanities degrees.

To ensure that new degree courses succeed, we should analyze why programs and courses did not survive. Some reasons for past failures are:

  • Trying to start a degree course with insufficient resources;
  • Starting courses that are dependent on one person;
  • Focusing a degree only on a small specific branch, thus limiting the number of participants;
  • Unclear profiles, making it difficult for students to see which opportunities a specific degree offers;
  • Computer science orientation with a high level of mathematical background frightening away potential Humanities students;
  • Very shallow requirements, giving courses a poor reputation;

With these potential pitfalls in mind, panelists will address the following broad questions, (particularly at the national level) about the current state DH education at university level:

1. Are there degree courses which are explicitly labeled ‘Digital Humanities’ (or with an equivalent label, like ‘Humanities Computing’ or ‘eHumanities’) in your country?

2. Are there degree courses which are not explicitly labeled Digital Humanities but are dedicated to some form of interdisciplinary study between a Humanities subject and the IT tools needed for this field (e.g. degree courses dedicated to IT methods in philology, linguistics, history, cultural studies, archeology, art history etc.)

3. What degree courses exist which are flavors of library and information science degrees, directed explicitly at Humanities’ graduates or including a significant amount of Digital Humanities content?

4. Are there any degree courses offered at Computer Science faculties that are targeting humanities students with DH-flavored degrees?

5. Are there programs or courses at the intersection of DH and other emerging fields of study? Are ‘digital preservation’ or ‘game studies’ real DH programs or DH inflected?

6. On which levels do such course programs exist? (BA, MA, PhD, vocational add-on qualifications after a first degree, etc.)

7. Are such programs well established or recently created? How big is the student demand? How visible are these courses outside the DH community?

8. How are they organized? By a DH Department, a DH Center in collaboration with a more traditional department, or as part of the teaching offered by departments that support traditional academic fields?

9. Are there required / optional courses on Digital Humanities embedded in other Humanities degree programs (beyond “computer literacy” courses)?

10. What content is taught in these classes or degree programs? Is there some consensus between different institutions within a national context on the content of a ‘DH degree’? Is there possibly a consensus on such content within a specific subfield – i.e. ‘Computing in Archeology’ – even if there is no generalized consensus on DH-curricula as such

11. What can or should be done to arrive at a core DH curriculum with a clearly defined bundle of knowledge and skills?

12. Do differences in culture and language make a case for ‘national’ or ‘local’ DH, or is DH a ‘universal’ field in terms of methodologies? Can DH tools, research and curricula be culturally neutral, regardless of where they are designed and produced? How can we best address the problem of cultural diversity within DH?

13. Can a consistent understanding of Digital Humanities as a field be traced in the courses which claim to teach it?

Perspectives for the Digital Humanities look particularly bright at the moment. We should see this as a chance to lay the groundwork for more stable curricula that are comparable at least within, preferably across, different national landscapes in academia. As digital humanities pedagogy continues to flourish, there is a clear desire in the community to compile resources and compare experiences – this panel will be of broad interest to conference participants.


Clement, T., et al. (2010). Digital Literacy for the Dumbest Generation – Digital Humanities Programs 2010. Paper presented at the DH 2010. [references there have been skipped here] (all online resources in this bibliography accessed 23 March 2012).

de Smedt, K., et al. (1999). Computing in Humanities Education: A European Perspective. Bergen

Drucker, J., et al. (2002). Final Report for Digital Humanities Curriculum Seminar, University of Virginia

Fiormonte, D. (2010). The International Scenario of Digital Humanities. In T. Numerico et al. (eds.), L’umanista digitale. Bologna: Il Mulino, pp. 201-210.

Gouglas, S., et al. (2006) Coding Theory: Balancing Technical and Theoretical Requirements in a Graduate-Level Humanities Computing Programme. Mind Technologies: Humanities Computing and the Canadian Academic Community, pp. 245-256.

Gouglas, S. et al. (2010) Computer Games and Canada’s Digital Economy: The Role of Universities in Promoting Innovation

Hanlon, C. (2005). History on the Cheap: Using the Online Archive to Make Historicists out of Undergrads. Pedagogy 5(1): 97-101

Brett, D. H., ed. (2012, forthcoming). Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Practices, Principles, Politics. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P.

Kirschenbaum, M. (2010). What is Digital Humanities, and What’s it Doing in English Departments? ADE Bulletin 150

Norcia, M. (2008). Out of the Ivory Tower Endlessly Rocking: Collaborating across Disciplines and Professions to Promote Student Learning in the Digital Archive. Pedagogy 8(1): 91-114

Orlandi, T. (2007). Ultimo bilancio dell’informatica umanistica

Parodi, M. (2009). Oltre le due Culture. Informatica Umanistica

Ragone, G., et al. (2011). Lo statuto dell’Informatica umanistica. Session at the Conference “Dall’Informatica umanistica alle culture digitali”, Rome 2011

Rockwell, G. (1999). Is humanities computing an academic discipline?

Rockwell, G., ed. (2009). The Academic Capacity of the Digital Humanities in Canada (

Sahle, P. (2011). Digitale Geisteswissenschaften. Cologne. [Printed catalog on study programs in Germany] (online version:

Sinclair, S., and S. W. Gouglas (2002). Theory into Practice: A Case Study of the Humanities Computing Master of Arts Programme at the University of Alberta. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education 1(2): 167-183

Spiro, L. (2011). Knowing and Doing: Understanding the Digital Humanities Curriculum. Paper presented at the DH 2011. See blogpost for further information:

Svensson, P. (2010). The Landscape of Digital Humanities. DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly 4(1)