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a collaborative community-based project

Keywords and Keywords (and Digital Humanities)

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 1 As the field of digital humanities has expanded dramatically in recent years, it has also struggled to define—or perhaps more correctly, to redefine—itself across a seemingly divergent set of its practitioners’ backgrounds, interests, priorities, methodologies, and institutional settings that yet still have something fundamental in common. From critical code studies to corpus linguistics to tool creation to online pedagogy, digital humanities practitioners surely share the digital and the humanities yet may work within different fundamental paradigms, asking different questions and using different methodologies in the service of achieving very different final goals.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 1 How, beneath the shared surface of this broadly cast “big tent” of digital humanities, can such a diverse community of practice come together in fruitful and mutually beneficial ways? What can we as scholars do to facilitate this convergence in a broad discursive space where the ethic of “more hack, less yack” can sometimes discourage the meaningful exchanges of ideas that still need to happen, the collective negotiations of purpose that so often serve as the source of new insights?

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 1 In his seminal book Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (1976; New York: Oxford University Press: 1985), Raymond Williams defines his project as “the record of an inquiry into a vocabulary” (15) and presents that inquiry as a series of short interpretive essays on carefully selected but commonly used significant words. Between them, his chosen keywords comprise “a general vocabulary ranging from strong, difficult and persuasive words in everyday usage to words which, beginning in particular specialized contexts, have become quite common in descriptions of wider areas of thought and experience.” (14) They are “significant, binding words in certain activities and their interpretations,” and they are “significant, indicative words in certain forms of thought.” (15)

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 1 Keywords, then, are those terms that contain and naturalize the categories through which we form our ideas; in our daily speech they embody the assumptions through which our views of the world around us emerge.

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 1 In Williams’s approach to the meaningful keywords of a community’s shared discourse is an implicit challenge to any diverse yet conscientious community of practice: to deliberately and skillfully make ourselves aware of the multiple, hidden, sometimes divergent, and often hegemonic meanings of our basic shared terminology. Our task becomes, like Williams’s, to inquire into our shared vocabulary rather than merely to use it.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 2 The Digital Humanities Keywords project seeks to take up that challenge by creating a shared space and collaborative conversation for working through and exposing the underlying assumptions—the points of agreement, the sites of tension, the unanswered questions—of the still-emergent and surprisingly complex digital humanities community, through focused attention to the building blocks of its shared discourse.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Help us to explore the digital humanities community’s strong, difficult, persuasive, yet overly-familiarized keywords by joining the conversation here.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 1 Susan Garfinkel
July, 2013

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Source: http://www.dhkeywords.org/wp/keywords-and-keywords/