“With the inauguration of Computers and the Humanities, the time has perhaps arrived for a more serious look at the position of the humanistic scholar in the world of data processing,” wrote English scholar Louis Milic in the inaugural issue of the journal (Milic 1966). The opening issue’s invitation to participate immediately offered a capacious definition of humanistic inquiry. Under the editorship of Joseph Raben at CUNY’s Queens College, the opening issue explicitly called for a broad definition that ranged from literature to music to the visual arts as well as “all phases of the social sciences that stress the humane.” The centrality of fields such as music and art history were a given. “The music people have been the most imaginative,” Milic argued. In the second issue, art historian Kenneth Lindsey laid out the state of “Art, Art History, and the Computer.” “Within the past few years, we have witnessed the growth of interest in how sophisticated mechanical instruments can promote both the production of art and a better organisation of the data of art history,” he wrote (Lindsay 1966). Audio and visual work as a primary source and therefore as data was central to their configuration of DH, which was known at the time ashumanities computing. The new journal sought to harness “the phenomenal growth of the computer during the past decade” and demonstrate what could be possible when researchers across disciplines created, analyzed, and communicated their work at the intersection of their object of study and computers. The first issues radiate with excitement.
Fast forward forty years, and the possibilities of the computer could not be more apparent as signaled by the flourishing of what is now labeled as Digital Humanities (DH). However, the institutional configurations that led to “Humanities Computing” and now “Digital Humanities” consolidated around text and specific fields such as literary studies and linguistics. The logocentrism of the field is best demonstrated by the form and content of the field’s publications, which are an important and powerful gauge of credit and prestige because they reflect and shape a field’s priorities. For example, the official journal of the European Association of Digital Humanities, Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, was titled Literary and Linguistic Computing from its founding in 1986 until 2015. Computing in the Humanities relaunched as Language Resources and Evaluation in 2005 and situated itself squarely in a particular configuration of linguistics (Ide 2005). They reflect the narrowed configuration of the field in disciplinary terms by the early 2000s.
Copyright © James O’Sullivan and contributors 2023. All rights reserved. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without prior permission in writing from the publishers.
Arnold, Taylor, and Lauren Tilton. "Analyzing Audio/Visual Data in the Digital Humanities." The Bloomsbury Handbook to the Digital Humanities. Ed. James O’Sullivan. London,: Bloomsbury Academic, 2022. 179–188. Bloomsbury Handbooks. Bloomsbury Collections. Web. 25 Jul. 2023. http://dx.doi.org/10.5040/9781350232143.ch-17 .