The Digital Humanities Initiative is a collaborative effort between the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute for the Humanities and University Library seeking to develop a greater Digital Humanities presence on the UIC campus that will bring scholarly work for faculty and students up to date and pave the way for future projects.
The Initiative is supported by the University of Illinois System Presidential Initiative to Celebrate the Impact of the Arts and Humanities and represents a collaborative effort between the University Library and the Institute for the Humanities. The Digital Humanities Initiative provides technical resources and consultation for humanities scholars at UIC to develop new methods and technologies in their current research, to create new paradigms in future scholarship, and to increase graduate students’ exposure to digital techniques to enhance competitiveness in the job market. The presidential grant funding supports workshops for faculty and students, a postdoctoral fellowship, and a digital humanities conference. Through such efforts, the Initiative hopes to expand the dissemination of humanities research across digital platforms and enhance its impact by reaching larger audiences on a regional, national and global level.
Defining Digital Humanities
Digital Humanities—which the Initiative defines broadly as all work in arts and humanities that incorporates computer-assisted technology in research—enables academics to explore new subjects for their research, develop and use new tools to undertake innovative research in existing subject areas, reach new audiences beyond the university, and use new platforms for their work.
Scholarship in the 21st Century
Digital Humanities has changed the face of arts and humanities scholarship in all disciplines in the past ten years, and promises to be a vitalizing force across humanities disciplines in the years to come.
The DHI is proudly sponsored by:
A Brief History of Digital Humanities at UIC
The creation of the Digital Humanities Working Group (DHWG) at UIC marks an important start in DH happenings at UIC. The founding document to create the Digital Humanities Working Group as part of the Institute for the Humanities at UIC dates to March 27, 2012, which was the Day of the Digital Humanities. Co-signed by Mary M. Case (University Librarian and Dean of Libraries) and Steve Jones (Distinguished Professor of Communication) as co-coordinators and Benn Williams, then special Projects Coordinator (Graduate College) as secretary. In effect, the document was conceived and drafted by Mr. Williams, in hope of creating a formal structure at UIC with several goals:
- “develop[ing] a graduate curriculum,”
- “creat[ing] collaborative projects . . . worthy of NEH grant funding,”
- “foster[ing] an intellectual environment . . . [to] explore[e] disciplinary frontiers,”
- “provid[ing] a point of contact for an emerging but disparate campus movement”
- “invit[ing] speakers . . . of interest to the working group and campus at large.”
The Institute’s then-Director Sue Levine accepted the proposal and formally recognized the working group, providing it with a small annual budget. The DHWG existed formally until 2018 when the new director of the Institute for the Humanities, Mark Canuel, elevated the Institute’s interest in the digital humanities, incorporating it into the Engaged Humanities Initiative, which grew out of a Mellon-funded grant led by Provost Susan Poser, Dean Astrida Tantillo (LAS), Mark Canuel, and Sara Hall (then director of the Office of Undergraduate Research).
During it’s time as a working group, the DHWG pursued several worthwhile activities, namely:
- Hosting lectures and presentations by external scholars, notably: Megan Bernal and Jim LeFager (DePaul University), Martin Paul Eve (founder and director of the Open Library of Humanities), Jen Wolfe (Newberry Library), Stephen Brier (CUNY), Scott Rettberg (University of Bergen), and Steve Jones (then of Loyola University Chicago);
- Working with the University Library on a campus-wide survey of needs with specific questions pertaining to the digital humanities;
- Co-sponsoring Victoria H. F. Scott’s keynote address “The Art History Guild Strikes Back!” given at the ‘Discipline and Doctrine’ Interdisciplinary Symposium at UIC;
- Co-sponsoring and co-hosting the Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science (DHCS) in 2016;
- Creating an institutional website and intercampus listserv dedicated to the digital humanities.
This brief history was written by Benn E. Williams, UIC Graduate College, 2019