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Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter 2011 Conversations Featured Excerpts

“The debates around the role of ‘theory’ in digital humanities are debates about the relationship between saying and doing.”
Natalia Cecire

Faces from "The Real Faces of White Australia"

“The Real Faces of White Australia”

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Introduction: Theory and the Virtues of Digital Humanities

I came to theory because I was hurting—
the pain within me was so intense I could not go on living.

—bell hooks, “Theory as Liberatory Practice”


The silicon chip is a surface for writing.

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When Digital Humanities Was in Vogue

“More hack, less yack,” they say. I understand the impulse, and to some degree admire the rough-and-tumble attitude of those in digital humanities whose first priority is getting things done. Hell, I like getting things done.

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Theory First

It’s easy to be reasonable about the relationship we’d like to see between digital humanities and “Theory.” Each should inform the other. After all, humanists who put big-T Theory before any empirical data foolishly close their ears to the new evidence digital can create; digital humanists who ignore theory entirely jeopardize not only their careers but the soundness of their conclusions.

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What We Think We Will Build and What We Build in Digital Humanities

After five years “workin’ on the railroad,” I find myself confronting one of the central paradoxes of doing digital humanities–what Jerome McGann, one of the leading scholars of electronic texts, calls the problem of imagining what you don’t know.

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