In order to understand the digital humanities, one must know what the humanities are. The humanities are the stories, concepts, artwork, and people that shape the way we make sense of the world around us. As defined by Lyn Maxwell White in Handbook of the Undergraduate Curriculum: A Comprehensive Guide to Purposes, Structures, Practices, and Change, the humanities are:
Disciplines of the humanities such as philosophy, history, and literary studies offer models and methods for addressing dilemmas and acknowledging ambiguity and paradox. They can help us face the tension between the concerns of individuals and those of groups and promote civil and informed discussion of conflicts, placing current issues in historical perspective. They also give voice to feeling and artistic shape to experience, balancing passion and rationality and exploring issues of morality and value. The study of the humanities provides a venue in which the expression of diddering interpretations and experiences can be recognized and areas of common interest explored. (263)Similarly, the digital humanities is about sharing concepts, values, and ideas. It is as simple and complex as it sounds, for now you have a new medium to share all of the information...the digital world. Namely, the internet.
The "Deformed Humanities," as proposed by Mark Sample, is:
A humanities born of broken, twisted things. And what is broken and twisted is also beautiful, and a bearer of knowledge. The Deformed Humanities is an origami crane—a piece of paper contorted into an object of startling insight and beauty (Notes Towards a Deformed Humanities)Which I find to be just as startling as an analogy. And, I believe summarizes just what the digital humanities are and how it is related to the post-structural movement. Oragami, like the digital humanities, is the contortion of a piece of paper, it can be folded and unfold, and recreated. The digital humanities are ever shifting, there is no center, it is not fixed.
As I began thinking about where theory was going, particularly in relation to the digital humanities, I reflected on all the theories we have studied. Every theory bore a new theory, one with the opposite message. New Criticism which focuses on the death of an author, is the catalyst of a response and movement that emphasizes the authors. They say history repeats itself, so I believe, the response to the digital humanities--which emphasizes sharing and open access--will be one that focuses on author ownership. However, I think the digital humanities will triumph, as it continues to challenge the narcissistic world we live in. Though this class comes to an end, theory and the digital humanities are not finished. They will continue to resurrect, transform, and evolve.