Have digital tools and methods accelerated the rate of scholarly production over the last 20 years? If so, has this acceleration been beneficial for scholarship? This article considers examples of accelerated historical scholarship as well as calls for a “slow history.” Through an analysis of the author's own experiences with the digital humanities, it examines the advantages and disadvantages of digital technologies in the field of history. It concludes that online resources and digital technologies have expanded the archive for the historian and created new ways to reach other specialists and the general public. Nevertheless, historical scholarship must still rely on carefully crafted, well-argued prose whose production cannot be accelerated by new digital technologies, although recent developments in the field of artificial intelligence may ultimately challenge this situation.
In recent decades, the field (or, at times, discipline) of digital humanities (DH) has revolutionized the scholarly profession and beyond—and with good reason. Seen at times as a democratizing force, DH has led to the creation of an increasing number of open- access databases and scholarly publications, the launching of massive archival digitization initiatives, and the development of numerous digital tools that help streamline the work of the academic researcher, student, and educator. In many ways, then, its benefits are manifest. Yet, recent years have also begun to reveal numerous problems that could influence various aspects of our trade as well as what—and how—information will be available in the future. This article discusses some of the advantages and disadvantages of DH and invites the reader to reflect on what we can do to help mitigate these problems.
Exciting new modes of digital scholarship have emerged in recent years, providing us with expanded windows onto the past. This process has been accelerated by somewhat democratized ways of digitizing and analyzing source material. A main issue of contemporary knowledge production using digitized sources is how power can so easily be reinscribed into access to archives. The choice to digitize collections, even the existence of collections themselves, creates a great opportunity for research but also runs the risk of reinforcing the privilege and worldviews that have shaped and continue to shape the very processes of digitization and digitalization. Drawing on examples of Western and non-Western digital scholarship, this article argues that, although the digital facilitates greater public knowledge of collections, when it comes to decolonizing our research subjects, it also introduces significant layers of complexity.
This article advances an analysis of the development and state of critical digital humanities. It posits two modalities for this approach to digital humanities (DH). The first is a modality of inward-looking, functional self-critique that comprises a rethinking of computational genesis stories, logics and methods, institutions and infrastructures, and digital capitalism, and the second is an outward-looking critique best understood as a form of situated sociopolitical engagement that embraces epistemic and social justice projects that are decolonial, anti-racist, inclusive, collaborative, and multilingual. Through these analyses, the article offers a vision of critical digital humanities in its mission to critique the ideologies, social inequities, and epistemological hierarchies that are built into technological products and computational logics and that are concomitantly fostered by knowledge- creation industries of universities, corporations, governments, and the GLAM[R] sector. In this way, the article shows how critical digital humanities helps us to envision the role that DH can play in processes of recovery, reparations, emancipation, and community-building.
Drawing upon over 20 years as Editor-in-Chief of H-France, I argue that the scholarly profession, established in Cold War era, pre-digital institutions, has only begun to adapt to the transformations introduced by the global digital humanities. A generational shift is currently underway as younger scholars more natively adept with digital technologies use their skills and forms of new media to press for changes in hiring and tenure practices, to demand greater progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues, and to insist that the academy confront the collapse of academic positions in the humanities and provide training for and recognition of alternative career paths. I call upon professional organizations to undertake difficult conversations and take leadership in reshaping professional organizations for a post–Cold War, digital age, especially in terms of funding priorities. Scholarly organizations will best gain influence through collaboration.