Digital Humanities as Public History?

My response to William Pannapacker’s Big Tent Digital Humanities, pt. 2


“Now I’d like to turn to the larger problems facing the field, such as the reality that most people don’t know all that much about it…We speak with each other primarily through scholarly channels—which is essential to our work—but that creates a void in public discourse about what we do.” 

I think this is exactly the point of the “digital” aspect of digital humanities. The scholarly channels are now exactly public, and engaged with in the public sphere, through the nature of digital technologies. As Sandy Thatcher mentions below, the correlation between digital and openness, in this case opening up scholarship to a public audience, is a key component that delineates traditional humanities from digital humanities. It’s no surprise then that many digital humanities projects are open source, crowdsourced, experimenting with ‘open’ models of scholarship, etc. etc. If the larger problem with the field is that not many people know about it, I’d argue that they soon will, and that will prove the value of moving disciplines into the social, digital space. When reading this I kept wondering if it would be valuable at some point to begin to discuss the digital humanities as Public History… history that is being written on open, digital walls.


Am I on to something, or is this just me getting caught up with the glories of open access?


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