DH as Scholarship

For my “official” homework post, let me post something controversial.

In the morning session, the conversation briefly touched on the dispute of whether DH was “scholarship.” The conversation moved on after that, but had we followed it up, this is where I would have gone…

The complaints that DH isn’t scholarship seem tied to the one-size-fits-all of print articles and monographs. But, many voices from outside the digital community have challenged that model.

Here, I’m thinking of Ernest Boyer’s classic work Scholarship Reconsidered (1990). [Selection Here, Full Book here]

Boyer’s picture of scholarship advocated four separate ways of contributing to scholarship:

  1. The scholarship of discovery, the traditional model of new scholarship.
  2. The scholarship of integration, or synthesis.
  3. The scholarship of engagement, which recognizes public interaction and outreach to constituencies beyond the academy.
  4. The scholarship of teaching and learning, recognizing that we can grow in our understanding of teaching systematically (in passing, this is a field which has seen huge growth in the past decade).

Using Boyer’s schema, DH in all its iterations (as discussed today) touches on at least one and often more than one of these types of scholarship.

So, an appreciation of Boyer’s model could help move along our defense of DH as scholarship.

On this front, I think “the Humanities” can help support “the Digital” in showing the broader uses of humane learning. And, this broader view of DH as scholarship could be nurtured particularly well at liberal arts institutions, which at least some participants represent. For my part, I’m grateful that my institution, the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minnesota values all forms of scholarship and that my administration has been very supportive as I’ve been thinking about DH and its place in our institution.



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