The Openness of “Patchwork DH” – Bodies that matter

The Avant-Garde Manifestos of  THATCAMP  and Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0  that tried to capture the nature of Digital Humanities, portray how fluid this area of study is even today, and how imperative is to stabilize its aim and objectives . Although, the perspectives of these Manifestos differ , both agree that DH is still in an open-ending process of subjectivity and welcomes scholars who wish to contribute. This collaborative idea of inclusion, under the umbrella of DH , explicitly emphasizes how diverse this field can be.

Trying to examine the nature of DH, it seems that Shelley’s Jackson Patchwork Girl could provide a simile for analysis . Patchwork Girl tries to recreate Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in a digitilized format while at the same time it diverges from the linear form of the printed narrative and creates a hypertext with numerous pathways. In the same way, the new born field of DH (digitalised and elusive) is the by-product of a stabilized academic framework (Humanities) which follows a linearity as Shelley’s narrative. This new field is a pastiche of bits and pieces which is both monstrous and unified. From the one hand, there are many fragmented hyper-texts, data and metadata (like Patchwork Girl’s body is mutilated), and from the other hand, all these contribute to the whole (Patchwork Girl) as they are digitalized and follow their own path into the abyss of the web. As there are no clear space boundaries this sense of contributing to a creative process, to a body that is still in the making, makes it mandatory, as Ramsay  in his blog mentions,  ”to adopt a critical stance to the tools  that are used and  how this ‘melting pot’ of scholars (and we ourselves ) are using them”  (par. 4.11)

By posting this image I’m trying to visualise my thoughts of the ”Gender of Digital Humanities” and attempting to define DH, once again. As a new-born field that encompasses many different scholars with distinct backgrounds and objectives, Digital Humanities is a gingerbread person whose identity links to the ”big data” of a digital humanities laboratories. Its attraction depends on the different academic disciplines that constitute it and on the expectations these fields have for the results of their projects. However, as the results of on-going projects are not  fixed the biological sex of DH constantly re-examines itself.  Its sex is created by performative and collaborative acts that result in a plethora of projects and findings. More specifically, as a gingerbread person, DH constitute by parts (academic disciplines).  These parts collaborate with each other and create projects and archives ( London Lives, Republic of Letters, The Orlando Project etc.) .The identity of DH, the brain of the gingerbread person, is what it is hidden behind the screens, the metadata that result in the visualization of projects (i.e. XML file,HTML file) . The attraction is the relationship that is created between the different disciplines and the tools they implement for the creation of their projects.  As a result DH’s sex is defined by multiple factors and is almost impossible to trace.

To conclude, DH is a hybrid entity trying to locate its gender. This hybridity derives from the diverse bodies that constitute its attraction and result in its sex (Humanities, Computer Science, Linguistics, Historical Studies etc. ) and the tools that are experimenting with (Text Encoding Initiative, eXtensive Marked-up Language etc.) for their creative process. Not sure where this could leads us yet but as its pioneer suggests to “make it new” (Ramsay) and voices some of the objectives of Imagism movement and Pound’s poetry, I would definitely have a go.

Works cited:

Barret James. Patchwork Girl. You tube. 2011. Web. 30 Sept. 2013

Dacos, M. THAT CAMP Manifesto for the Digital Humanities. That camp London. 2011. Wed. 30 Sept.2013. Web

Presner, Todd. ”Humanities Blast Engaged Digital Humanities Scholarhip (Digital Humanites Manifesto 2.0).”  Wed. 30 Sept. 2013. Web

Ramsay, Stephen. Why I’m in it. Stephen Ramsay. 2013. Web. 30 Sept. 2013. Web

Brown Susan, Clements Patricia, Grundy Isabel. The Orlando Project, 2006-2013. Web. 30 Sept. 2013 .Web

Tim Hitchcock, Robert Shoemaker, Sharon Howard and Jamie McLaughlin, et al., London Lives, 1690-1800 .April 2012. Web. 30 Sept. 2013. Web

  CESTA, Stanford University. The Republic of Letters. 2013. 30 Sept. 2013.Web


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