Last year, NITLE published a widely-shared white paper (Divided and Conquered: How Multivarious Isolation Is Suppressing Digital Humanities Scholarship) that pointed to the challenges of isolation for digital humanists. This challenge especially affects digital scholars at small liberal arts colleges. Quinn Dombrowski and I wrote that paper because we were part of a small group working on a project to address that challenge. I am happy to report that our project, DHCommons (Digital Humanities Commons) officially launched on January 5, 2011 at the MLA convention with a workshop on Getting Started in the Digital Humanities. You can see a video of Ryan Cordell’s official introduction to the workshop and the project in his recent ProfHacker post, “DHCommons Launches for All Users.”
DHCommons has become part of centerNet, an international network of digital humanities centers. This seems like a fitting home to me, because these centers counter isolation on individual campuses, and the centerNet network counters isolation of individual centers. Most small liberal arts colleges, however, don’t have a digital humanities center. DHCommons fills an important gap by connecting faculty and staff at small liberal arts colleges with the larger digital humanities community. Our goal is to enable isolated scholars to join existing projects, find projects to which their students can contribute, or find collaborators for their own digital projects.
The Digital Thoreau project provides a great example. This project aims to provide
the most complete and interactive online corpus of Thoreau’s published works, manuscripts, journals, letters, and related materials, contextualized with the best existing scholarship and open to the widest audience for access and response.
According to Paul Schacht, Professor and Chair of English at SUNY-Geneseo and project director of the Digital Thoreau project, the projects more immediate goal
is to create a digital edition of “Walden” that will show the genesis of the text through Thoreau’s seven drafts and that will be contextualized using materials from the Walter Harding collection and other collections at the Thoreau Institute Library.
Dr. Schacht, like many liberal arts college faculty, did not learn digital humanities in graduate school. Although he has been experimenting with digital pedagogies since the late 1990’s (last year he won a NITLE Community Contribution Award for “English Majors Practicing Criticism: A Digital Approach”), he is a newborn in the world of digital scholarly projects. He came to the DHCommons workshop at MLA to connect to and learn from other digital humanists about how to approach the incipient Digital Thoreau project. He also connected with two other faculty members who, like him, are teaching Walden this semester. These are the kinds of connections we hope to encourage with DHCommons.
NITLE Digital Scholarship Seminar, February 3 at 2 pm EST
Prof. Schacht will join two of the original creators and board members of DHCommons–Quinn Dombrowski and Chris Dickman–on February 3 at 2 pm EST for the next NITLE Digital Scholarship Seminar, Building Scholarly Networks: Digital Humanities Commons. Please register online by Thursday, February 2, 2012. Registration is free; however, space is limited. The full event description is below:
Building Scholarly Networks: Digital Humanities Commons
- Paul Schacht, Professor and Chair of English, SUNY-Geneseo and winner of a NITLE Community Contribution Award for “English Majors Practicing Criticism: A Digital Approach,”
- Quinn Dombrowski, manager for Scholarly Technology, University of Chicago and DHCommons Board Member
- Christopher Dickman, Ph.D. candidate in English Rhetoric and Composition at Saint Louis University and DHCommons Board Member
Please register online by Thursday, February 2. Registration is free, however space is limited.