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Response to Review of The Emergence of the Digital Humanities

I’m grateful for James Baker’s generous review, especially coming as it does from an expert curator, historian, and engaged digital humanities practitioner. He effectively summarises the key arguments of the book about the eversion of cyberspace and the emergence of the new digital humanities. As he points out, the tone of the book is generally positive when it comes to the potential of DH, and it’s true that the more recent debates about technological ‘solutionism’ are not explicitly discussed. But I do refer to earlier discussions of the ‘dark side’ of DH, and to the dangers of DH finding itself complicit in de-funding of the humanities, being associated with the hype surrounding MOOCs, or seeming to promote technologies that further enable the surveillance state – all issues that have all been addressed by DHers in recent years. So the book’s generally positive tone is tempered here and there by an awareness of negative possibilities.

On the limitations of disciplinary perspectives Dr Baker is quite right, however. I fully agree that the emergence described in the book should be ‘mapped more widely, to vibrant and important DH-like work clustered around centres, faculties, departments and libraries across Europe, Australia, South America, India, work undertaken by historians, geographers, musicologists, archaeologists, linguists, and art historians, as well as literary and new media scholars’. Some of that mapping is already underway by other scholars, and I look forward to seeing more of it in the near future.