Week 2: Defining the Nature of Digital Humanities

Is the fragmentation of Digital Humanities purely because of the multiple disciplines it has drawn scholars from? Or is it because DH has yet to define how those disciplines interact with each other.

There are three ways that disciplines can interact:

  • Multidisciplinary — different disciplines can interact, they are predominantly different and don’t overlap.
  • Interdisciplinary —  different disciplines can collaborate and overlap to answer a question but at the end leave without changing their character.
  • Transdisciplinary — different disciplines come together in such a way that new knowledge, or even a new discipline, is created as a result of the overlap.

DH is not multidisciplinary. The level of collaboration between disciplines is too high for there to be no overlap of research interest. Therefore it is either inter- or transdisciplinary. The question here is whether DH is something completely new or the combination of two disciplines that have not changed. The answer, currently, is different for each DH project and how the scholars involved collaborate. However, with the increase in “born digital” material, there will come a day when the Humanities without the Digital will be impossible.


The levels of overlap and collaboration define the different natures of disciplines.


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