What is the Centre for Digital Humanities?
The Centre for Digital Humanities (CDH) is an interdisciplinary centre supporting research and education in computational and data-driven methods in the humanities.
What does that look like in practice?
The CDH consists of three groups: Digital Humanities Lab, Utrecht Data School and Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS. These groups are supported by the Digital Humanities IT, a team of IT specialists. Besides that, The CDH collaborates closely with the Digital Humanities Support Group and the Living Lab Digital Humanities at Utrecht University Library.
Why this centre?
The CDH was founded in 2020 to address the computational shift that is happening in the world. The amount of data in the world is increasing explosively, and the increasing importance of data also affects the humanities. CDH offers to help teachers, researchers and students to achieve a greater digital literacy.
How are we going to tackle that?
First of all, the CDH organizes courses, trainings and webinars to advance digital literacy. Staff members attending these courses will be compensated (in teaching units, dcu). Second, the CDH wants to encourage humanities researchers and teachers to work closely with data experts and software developers. The CDH can provide help with technical questions on data analysis and statistical research or develop research tools needed for specific research. The CDH also gives advice on research proposals with a digital humanities component. Finally, the CDH offers assistance to teachers in developing digital components in existing courses, or in developing digital tracks in a curriculum.
What can be achieved if computational and digital methods are well integrated in the humanities?
In a world where humanities researchers, teachers and students are up-to-date with current digital methods, they know how to search digital platforms and have a basic understanding of the algorithms behind it. Researchers are able to quickly gain insight into large amounts of data and can apply computational and digital methods to search, analyze, visualize, interpret, and even enrich all kinds of data collections.
Could you give some examples?
Within the cultural heritage domain, more and more archives are being digitized in order to search large quantities of historical newspapers, images, books, film and audio. With the help of text mining tools you can search vast amounts of texts very quickly, and find new connections. Automatic handwriting recognition tools make it possible for historians to access handwritten texts on a large scale. Linguistic researchers use computer programmes to transcribe and analyze spoken language. And media researchers explore radio and television recordings and link them to textual sources in order to answer more interdisciplinary research questions. These are just a few examples. Digital humanities research is in full development and new research methods are being developed every day.