Context #1: The Digital Humanities
A central concern to the emerging field of Digital Humanities is reconsidering the basic objects of study that are the subject of humanistic inquiry: the book or manuscript, the work of art, the musical performance, etc. These components must be reconsidered because they are newly mediated: the eBook is not the book; the virtual tour of the Louvre is not the same as visiting the Paris museum; the musical performance is a creature quite different than ever before when one can capture, sample, and remix various recordings. Even so late a comer to the humanities as the motion picture is no longer the same cultural artifact or experience it was in the 20th century -- not when one can experience films on a mobile device, on demand, and in computing contexts where audiences are as much creators as viewers.
|Is this the Mona Lisa? This is the way it appears on the|
official website of the Louvre. Studying a painting becomes
studying digital ways of manipulating its presentation.
(Image credit: Musée du Louvre, used by permission)
What is more, the sense-making frameworks that have been the staples of humanistic study are equally at risk. By such frameworks I mean physical locations (the museum, the classroom); methods of publication; methods of inquiry and expertise; theoretical premises; and finally, the very rhetoric of critique. People discover, learn about, make use of, comment upon, disseminate, and build upon art and literature in far different ways than they did back when we had fixed institutions and clear lines of expertise.