As digital humanities becomes more commonly accepted in the historical profession, some subfields’ scholars have been slow to adopt its methods. In particular, the field of military history, which is in some ways ideal for digital methods because of the depth of data available, has seen few innovative digital projects since the very beginnings of digital history with the Valley of the Shadow.
Structural and ideological barriers to digital work exist for many military historians, but lack of knowledge and training also play a part in military historians’ slow adoption of digital tools.
To discuss how to overcome those structural barriers, and to provide training in digital tools best suited to the analysis of military history, the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media will run a two-week Institute for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities from July 20-31, 2020. This institute, in connection with the NEH’s Standing Together initiative, will specifically focus on the opportunities and needs of military history, and as such, we will solicit participants who identify as military historians. During the two weeks of the institute, we will
- Investigate how digital history has been able to widen the scope of historical inquiry, and how military history has benefited from this wider scope;
- Teach participants how to create and customize humanities data sets from the vast amount of data that exists on military history;
- Teach participants then how to ask questions of the data sets they have created and how to find the answers using digital tools;
- Teach participants about two particular digital methods—visualizations and mapping—that we believe fit well into the military history framework; and
- Train participants in how to manage a digital project from start to finish, including instruction on how to find funding, how to allot personnel resources; and how (and when) to publish their work on the Internet.
This institute is the intellectual child of a less-intense digital humanities training workshop for military historians at Northeastern University in 2014, also funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Work begun in that two-day workshop has made its way into monographs, digital exhibits, and other scholarship, and we anticipate even better results from this institute, which will provide a much deeper dive into the topics.
This institute also follows in the intellectual footsteps of several previous NEH-funded Institutes run by RRCHNM. We will be following the model of the Doing DH Institutes, including both theoretical and methodological readings as a precursor to hands-on work with the technologies.