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"I’m not a digital historian, but.."

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One noticeable oddity in the first few sessions of the new Digital History seminar has been the slight reluctance amongst some scholars to consider themselves a “digital historian.” Just as one sometimes hears the phrase “I’m not a feminist, but…” from one who has absorbed all the attitudes of the first wave of feminist thought, some scholars preface a talk with a disclaimer about the work being “not very digital” and then proceed to discuss research that would have been impossible without digital technologies, broadly defined.

Why this might be is an intriguing question. It may be related to the growth of “Digital Humanities” into something that begins to look like a discipline rather than a method, with its own conferences, centres and departments. As soon as DH appears to be a department within a university, those scholars in plain old History or English Lit could be forgiven for thinking that digital scholarship is something that happens “over in DH.”

Whether or not the above is true, it may be that in another twenty years, to say that one is “not a digital historian” will seem as bizarre as it would be now to suggest that one was not a “word processor historian”.