RLI 284 An Overview of the Digital Humanities 8 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC 2013 28 easily separated from the related intellectual pursuits. The further lesson is that there is no single set of so-called digital tools, but multiple sets aligned along broad methodological lines, and the vision of integrating them in a single environment or infrastructure cannot be achieved simply. Such integration is a long-term not a short-term vision. Future Prospects I hope that by defining the digital humanities as the application of tools and processes to the “why possible?” questions of humanistic inquiry, and then by offering a typology of these tools and processes, I have been able to inject some clarity into this complicated topic. But what does this definitional framework suggest for the future trajectory of the digital humanities? Let me conclude by summarizing recent interventions by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and suggesting several areas that colleges and universities, and particularly their libraries, might consider for possible additional investment. The Mellon Foundation has been vigorous in its interventions in textual studies and it has been trying to align its investments in tool making with the promise that they will advance in classical, medieval, and early modern studies compelling questions such as structure and reception of texts and the development of new genres of writing. I note in passing that Jerry McGann received a Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award that recognized in part the transformative effect he had on the practice of textual studies. Mellon’s investments in spatial analysis have concentrated largely on archaeology and architectural history, especially the scholarly use of virtual reality tools. Ed Ayers is still pursuing his interest in spatial history, and the University of Richmond, where he is currently president, recently received a grant in Mellon’s higher education program to help support this work. Several distinguished achievement awards also have recognized spatially oriented accomplishments. Harvard’s Michael McCormick, whom I mentioned earlier, received one, as did Richard White at Stanford, who has been working on the historical geography of railroads in the US. The foundation has also recently launched an initiative on urbanism and architecture that falls broadly, but not exclusively, into this area of spatial analysis. In the domain of visual studies, Mellon has made substantial investments in ARTstor, and made a variety of grants to support performance studies, as well as the development of tools for visually based publications, such as Scalar, and for visual pattern matching. Going forward—as centers of humanistic research and teaching—universities, their libraries, and academic presses must support the digital humanities, but where should they place their emphasis? I would suggest, first, that it is critically important that they be alert to the particular strands of research being pursued. The staffing, equipment, and related requirements for literary, visual, and spatial analysis are quite distinct. When single institutions cannot afford to cover all areas, there is plenty of room for division of labor. I would note that two grants that Mellon made at the end of last year focused on the institutional requirements for supporting the digital humanities and the potential for developing specialized, collaborative centers. Second, the preservation of digital media is a critical area of research and development across the three broad areas of textual, spatial, and visual analysis.
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