DH and me – My approach to literary studies

Hello World !

This is my first posting for my wordpress blog. The blog is part of my studies in “Linguistic and Literary Computing” at the Technical University of Darmstadt.

In one of my courses we have been asked how the Digital Humanities do challenge or expand our approach to literary studies in the past and in the future.

For myself I can say that studying literature has always been linked to the digital world. Already in school we had an extensive use of the personal computer and the Internet additional to the printed books we used in class. For example when we read a poem by Goethe we searched for background information about the author, historical and political situation at the time it was written and so on.

When I started studying English language, literature and Philosophy the use of scientific databases and journal archives became indispensable. Naturally, there is the traditional approach to go to the library and to look up the needed information in a book. In most cases the book then is already borrowed by someone else or it does not contain the required information. Regarding journals only the latest editions are mostly available, as for instance from the current year. The older ones have already been archived and the access is more time consuming and sometimes not possible.

The university provides for its students access to many online journal archives and databases via Virtual Private Network (VPN). Hence, a web search is the fastest and easiest way to get a first overview. Sometimes it is also the only access to very old volumes of journals. Depending on the humanity and the actual topic one could find easily the most publications in a digital form. Obviously, there are some books and papers which are just available in a printed form because of the year they have been published, especially in the field of Philosophy.

The rapidity of our time increases day by day. Society shifts more and more to information and communication technologies. We do not want anymore to have a long and extensively search for information. All has to be found just in time and therefore it is no coincidence that Google displays how many milliseconds have been necessary to obtain the search results.

As the previous examples from my daily student life already illustrated for my comprehension the humanities are digital. I make no distinction between the traditional and the digital approach, because for me they are closely linked together. I do belong to the so called “Millenials”, the generation “Y”. We grow up hand in hand with the World Wide Web, even if we do not remember our and its first steps. As teenagers we conquered the Web 2.0. We published and shared almost everything from our lives via the social platforms like Facebook, Instagramm, Twitter, Tumblr and so on with the whole world or at least with our followers and virtual friends. It is for us therefore only natural the sciences and especially the humanities are part of the digital world.

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