Digital Humanities – Limits and Possibilities: A New Journal in Germany

The new German Zeitschrift für Digitale Geisteswissenschaften (Journal for Digital Humanities) of the Forschungsverbund Marbach, Weimar and Wolfenbüttel, supported by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung in its first volume discusses limits and possibilities of the Digital Humanities.

The editors, Constanze Baum and Thomas Stäcker, want to present theories, methods and projects of the Digital Humanities in the German speaking part of Europe. Not all texts are already available. But what is there is really interesting – here a small selection of articles:

Patrick Sale rhetorically denies that there is a Digital Humanities at all. John Nerbonne analysis computer science as a human science. Gabriel Viehauser discusses the possibilities of historical stylometry for medievial manuscripts. He believes that stylometry conceptually could be a bridge between the Digital Humanities and the traditional humanities. And André Blessing, Fritz Kliche, Ulrich Heid, Cathleen Kantner and Jonas Kuhn’s methodological contribution argues that it is possible to develop hermeneutically sensitive methods for text corpus analysis. They provide an overview of interactive tools for text processing and analysis that can be adjusted to specific  research questions in various disciplines.

It seems that the journal will follow the current concepts and discussions in the Digital Humanities’ community. But Germany is known for different and more critical approaches towards new technologies, also in sciences. USA and UK are leading countries in the Digital Humanities. There, scholars rather follow an empirical approach. In order to escape a substantive justification, I would like to refer to two examples to support this statement: Digital_Humanities of the MIT for the USA and Patrick Manning’s Big Data in History for the UK.

So, it will be interesting to watch the development of this new German Digital journal, its discussions and hopefully its theories of the Digital Humanities. Because, we are still lacking of a comprehensive theory of this new field of scientific practice.


Guido Koller

Senior Historian, Swiss Federal Archives, CH-3003 Berne, Switzerland

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