Why KCL?

lndnbrdgmarketI took a break from outlining to eat lunch and go to the market. The KCL Guy’s Campus has a farmer’s market on Tuesdays that is one of my favorite markets because it’s relatively small and not nearly as crowded as nearby Borough Market. They sell meat, bread, and produce as well as street food. Yum!

Before I get back to researching and outline my essay, which by the way will discuss whether digital methodologies used in humanities research can or should be purely empirical or whether they ought to be recognized as methods aiding interpretation rather than pure explanation, I’ll tell you a little bit more about my experience and why I chose KCL.

I first learned about Digital Humanities a few years ago while working at the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University. As part of its programming, the FHI hosts regular lectures, seminars, and workshops with visiting scholars. It also provides a space for Duke faculty and students to collaborate on both traditional humanities and digital humanities projects and hosts the Duke branch of HASTAC and CHCI. These projects and events, to which I provided technical and logistical support, introduced me to the DH world and inspired me to actually return to school to study DH.

Fast forward a bit to my acceptance to KCL’s MADH program (only one of several MA programs, and KCL also offers a PhD in DH as well as a BA beginning this fall). I chose to attend KCL’s program because its emphasis is on maintaining a strong link between DH and other humanities discipline. The Department of Digital Humanities trains its MADH students such that we don’t just become the technical support for DH projects, though we are certainly capable of this role. Rather, its aim is that we be able to bridge the common divide between developers/programmers and scholars/project managers. This means that we are taught both practical and theoretical aspects of DH in equal amounts and expected to be able to both build DH projects and analyze them.

This approach to DH training has important implications for the future of humanities research–in both academic and cultural heritage settings. It can mean that future DH projects in which KCL MADHers take part may not have to deal with some of the communications issues that have been so common to earlier DH projects and may profit considerably from the input of scholars who can bridge the divide between practical and theoretical work.

For me, being able to span this divide is important to not only DH and the humanities at large but also many other professions in the twenty-first century. In a world in which we are constantly pushing the envelope, seeking better, more creative solutions, we must have people who are able to see multiple aspects to a problem and find the best possible answer. (In case you’re wondering, my ascription to this ideology goes back to my undergraduate studies at Warren Wilson College, which uses a unique Triad model of academics, work, and service to educate its students.)