Timothy Brennan’s “The Digital-Humanities Bust” is the latest in a long line of essays criticizing a new field or approach known as “the digital humanities.” “What exactly have the digital humanities accomplished?” Brennan wants to know. He concludes that “the digital humanities is a wedge separating the humanities from its reason to exist — namely, to think against prevailing norms.” The problem with these hit pieces is that they are swinging at air. There is no such thing as “the digital humanities.”

There are digital humanities. Digital technology is remaking humanistic study. How could it not? The digitization of the humanities isn’t the sort of structural process that could be reversed or abandoned. Consider the retrospective absurdity of “The Print-Humanities Bust,” a hypothetical essay published, let’s say, in 1517, soon after print technology reached Europe. “What exactly has the codex accomplished?” an ancient Timothy Brennan, used to reading scrolls, might have asked. [read more]

Chronicle of Higher Education 1 November, 2017