San Diego State University (SDSU) is home to a growing Digital Humanities Initiative. What began as a grass-roots and faculty-based movement to explore the impact of digital technologies in research and teaching has grown into a campus-wide initiative. We were designated a strategic “Area of Excellence,” which enabled the award of a faculty cluster hire and start-up funds. We built a large Digital Humanities Center in our campus library, and we have since developed successful curriculum, programming, and community around a commitment to leading with the human and humanities —not technology and the digital— in building digital humanities. Specifically, our Digital Humanities Initiative (DH@SDSU) is uniquely focused on global diversity; we hold tight to the belief that DH should serve social equity.
Digital Humanities supports, examines, and is built upon infrastructures— networked system of cables, servers, middleware, interfaces that undergird knowledge production in digital contexts, etc.— but the human aspects of collaboration, care, extra work are also essential. At SDSU, we build our program in alignment with the idea that social networks, bureaucratic practices, and political policies are not just about technologies and budgets but also about reputations, feelings, and friendships. This is a feminist practice that requires rethinking what counts as labor, scholarship, and infrastructure. It is a commitment and investment that, we believe, is paying off.
In this talk, I share process and experiences of building DH@SDSU but also thoughts about building digital humanities from the perspective of a humanities-based media studies scholar. One of the reasons for the success of DH@SDSU is the foundational support of research faculty, like myself, and that very real human aspect of “The Human in Digital Humanities” is worthy of our considerable attention.