If I were a kid again just going to college and deciding to major in literature I would totally go in for Digital Humanities (oh I know I could go to college again, but really, I’m done with getting degrees). Digital Humanities is a new and evolving discipline that is at the junction between computers and the humanities. When it comes to digital humanities and literature, you get exciting things like creating an interactive map of Joyce’s Ulysses.
The map was created by a professor and his graduate students over the course of several classes on the novel, one or two of which took place in Dublin. The result of the project is a mobile website powered by a database in which someone walking through Dublin can see photos of people and buildings from the time of the novel, can hear bits of the book being read to them at certain points, can read newspapers from the time, hear the snips of the sounds Joyce describes, and much more. How I would have loved to be in a class working on such a project!
Now there is a call for digital humanities scholars to start working on Faulkner. In a time long ago and far away I read a few short stories and Light in August and once tried to read Sound and the Fury. I was not impressed, but I was young and didn’t know anything then. I want to give Faulkner a try again sometime. If I were a digital humanities student it would be such a learning experience to work on a project involving Faulkner. I mean, think how deeply one would need to dive into the work in order to produce even a simple interactive timeline. It doesn’t even have to be really fancy. Check out the the electronic interactive chronology of Absalom, Absalom! they’ve done at the University of Virginia.
Exciting things happening in the humanities these days. I sometimes think it would be fun to do some interactive Emerson something or other but I never get beyond that because I’d have to learn some programming and it would be a huge project for one person. But who knows? Maybe someday.
Update I just discovered a recent article on Classics and the Digital Humanities (PDF) that is general but quite interesting for an overview of what has been going on in classical studies.