What are Digital Humanities?


If you’ve heard about digital humanities and are considering learning more, but don’t quite know where to start, the Digital Humanities Literacy Guidebook (DHLG) is for you.

The term “Digital Humanities” (DH) became popular in the early 2000s for scholarly work at the intersection of technology and the humanities. It simultaneously describes a community of practice, a research program, a set of methods, a constellation of publication venues, and a collective ethos that have all stubbornly defied definition since the term first came into use.

DH’s strange history and amorphous borders make little difference to those starting out. In lieu of grand theory and definitions, here you’ll find concrete examples of people doing digital humanities, educational resources, and some job market advice.

Much as nobody’s an expert in “the humanities,” neither is anyone an expert in “digital humanities.” DHers, as we often call ourselves, each occupy only a tiny region of the vast territory.

If the DHLG is a map of that territory, it’s only the roughest sketch. Wide swaths of this map say only “here be dragons,” and beyond those the DH landscape is even more uncertain. DH is a global endeavor. It spans many languages and disciplinary communities, but the authors of this guidebook are a couple historians from Pittsburgh, with only so wide a view.

Our hope is, as the community contributes to this resource, that view will widen with time.

Finding Your Way

Local Resources

In that spirit, we begin here with the view from Pittsburgh. Locals to the region will find helpful lists in the Local Resources section, including summaries of DH efforts at the various Communities and Programs to further your education, and People and Projects with whom you might want to familiarize yourself in the greater Pittsburgh area. Find out how to learn more in Getting Involved

Global Resources

Those within and outside of Pittsburgh will find Global Resources useful for getting involved in DH.

In Educational Resources, you will find Textbooks with which you can teach yourself, and Online Courses for guided instruction. DH has a rich array of Short Institutes and Workshops for those looking for a week or two of intensive training with an instructor. For anyone interested in pursuing undergraduate or graduate DH work, check out our list of international Undergraduate Programs, Certificates, and MA/PhD Programs.

To participate in the DH community, you’ll want to know the Conferences, Journals, Scholarly Organizations, and Online Communities.

Use the Job Markets Advice page to learn more about the DH job market process in general, and the Job Boards to find recent job ads that might help you shape your training curriculum for the next several years. The Hiring Surveys, coming soon, are responses to a survey by people who are in positions to hire digital humanists.

Once you have begun pursuing research, check out the list of Grants and Fellowships available for DH initiatives. Those just starting in DH might want to explore who has received such funding, and for what purposes.

How peer review and credit works for DH is still in active debate. Find a list of resources to learn more at Evaluating Digital Work.

Project Videos

In the style of Miriam Posner’s How Did They Make That series, in these Project Videos digital humanists introduce their individual projects, describing why and how they were made, what skills and technologies went into their development, and what the eventual payoff was or will be.

These videos present a better answer to “What are Digital Humanities” than anything else on the DHLG. The DH world is huge and difficult to grasp, so it’s always good to start with some concrete examples. Watching the videos will help you learn what digital humanists actually do, and why.


The Topics page is a glossary of sub-communities within digital humanities. It’s not particularly exhaustive, but it should help with many of the terms found in the Project Videos and around the rest of the site. Alongside the terms, these entries include resources to learn more about particular topics.


Because DH is always growing and changing, we welcome changes and contributions to this resource via pull requests to the github repository. You’ll find links at the bottom of each page for its home on github, which can be used for editing pre-existing pages. More details can be found at the README.md file in the github root directory. If you’d like to contribute a video, a new topic description for the glossary, or anything else, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

About Us

To learn more about the site and its contributors, read on.