Digital Public Humanities

The humanities disciplines—such as history, literature, philosophy, languages, religion, and others—help us understand our cultural and intellectual heritage, what it means to be human, and to be part of a community. The public humanities bring artists and humanities scholars together with community partners and cultural institutions, contributing to the public good while producing new knowledge. And the growing field of digital public humanities uses technology to create and enhance those connections.

One prominent example at the University of Iowa is the work of Ed Folsom, Roy J. Carver Professor of English and editor of the Whitman Quarterly. Folsom co-directs the Walt Whitman Archive (www.whitmanarchive.org), a website used by teachers in high school and college classrooms around the country. Thanks to a global group of translators, readers from China to Brazil will soon reap the benefits of this digital project.

Another advocate and practitioner of public, digital humanities is Jon Winet, associate professor in the Intermedia Program of the School of Art and Art History and inaugural director of the new Digital Studio for the Public Humanities (a campus-wide initiative that encourages and supports public digital humanities scholarship). Winet directs the online art and literature project The Daily Palette (http://dp.uiowa.edu),and recently worked with UI faculty and students in English, computer science, and library and information science to create “City of Lit,” an iPhone application highlighting Iowa City’s rich literary history, as reflected in its recent designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.

The Public Humanities in a Digital World initiative will bring at least six new faculty members to campus to join the distinguished cohort of faculty already making a name for the UI in this rapidly expanding area.