Becoming a Mellon Scholar has been an amazing journey so far, granted I only started the program this fall. When people ask me what the Mellon Scholars Program is, I give them a long spiel explaining the program as a whole and how we Mellons- a term used hereafter to identify students in the program- we study the field known as the digital humanities or DH. Those two words, “digital humanities”, they encapsulate so much and yet people know very little about the digital humanities. Partly this is because there is no set definition of what the Digital Humanities are. Digital humanists have argued from the very beginning whether the digital humanities discipline means applying the digital world to the humanities, or if DH applies the humanities to the digital world. Now, believe me, these are two very different things, and that’s why there is such a debate in the field. Whichever it means to a digital humanist, to me it means integrating two essential parts of human history.
The digital humanities integrate humanistic practices, e.g. the work of philosophers, artists, writers, linguists, and religionists, with digital technologies that are part of all of our lives. Mellons, in our journey to becoming digital humanists, are tasked with finding projects that reflect these two worlds. Without the digital humanities, we wouldn’t have access to archives that are digitizing their collections. Because of technology, people can view works that are spread across the globe. As researchers, we can now find sources with ease thanks to digitization. And yet, we ask questions that have energized generations of humanists: what can we learn from the past, present, and future?
Being a digital humanist is exhilarating and challenging and you can be one too!