Community Topics

One of the goals of the Digital Humanities Initiative is to grow the Duke communities of faculty, students, and staff that are developing on Duke's campus around some aspect of digital humanities. By organizing the field into these community topics and connecting them to representative projects, workshops, and other resources on campus, the DHI supports those looking to get involved with some aspect of the DH at their own pace.


Archives and Digital Publishing

Concept: Using web technologies to make digital objects publicly accessible on the internet. These digital objects may include, but are not limited to, text, images, audio, and video. Oftentimes, digital collections will organize digital objects in a way to make they more accessible and discoverable for researchers, whether by creating exhibits, facets, or search features. 

Some of the places where archives and digital publishing are happening at Duke include: Digital Scholarship Services and the Wired! Lab.

GIS photo


Concept: Applying geospatial information system tools and techniques to common objects of study in the Humanities. Work in this area spans a wide spectrum, from giving audiences a different view of history by overlaying historical and modern maps or showing change in a place over time or how ideas spread by mapping social media or other written texts.

Some of the places where GIS/mapping scholarship is happening at Duke include: Data and Visualization Services, the Visualization Friday Forum, and the Wired! Lab.

Networking illustration


Concept: Exploring relationships and connections between objects commonly studied in the Humanities. This process involves breaking information into component parts and visualizing those parts to show their interdependence. Examples of Humanities networks might be: philosophers and how they borrow philosophical concepts or artists and the museums their works are displayed in.

Some of the places where networks scholarship is happening at Duke include: Data and Visualization Services, Duke Network Analysis Center, and Social Science Research Institute.

Augmented reality: Pokémon Go

Extended Reality and Games

Concept: Using simulated spaces, virtual worlds, and hybrid media annotation systems to reconstruct sites, explore counterfactual concepts, and offer contextualized/situated knowledge. Procedural and interactive environments for experience design, storytelling, activism, and entertainment.

Some of the places where extended reality (virtual, mixed, augmented) and games are happening at Duke include: the Extended Reality (XR) Studio;  the Digital Digging Laboratory; Information Science + Studies; The Wired! Lab; the Emergence Lab; the Duke University Game Lab: and the  Visualization and Interactive Systems group.

Two books with the letters DATA BASE cut out


Concept: Using technology hardware and software to convert, explore, and visualize common Humanities text-based information. This area includes text analysis, topic modeling, statistics, and various quantitative methods of exploring text-based information.

Some of the places where text scholarship is happening at Duke include: Data and Visualization ServicesDigital Scholarship ServicesSocial Science Research Institute, and Information Science + Studies.

Social media illustration

Social Media and Crowdsourcing

Concept: Using social media or crowdsourcing to collect information from past or present events to make that history or the objects that make up that history more accessible for research or public consumption.

Some of the places where social media and crowdsourcing are being utilized are: Forum for Scholars and Public, the University Archives,  and the Wired! Lab.

Project Management

Project Management

Concept: Applying project management principles and best practices to digital projects in the Humanities. This includes learning about: project planning, collaboration, data storage, and tools for being more efficient in your project management.

Some of the places where project management learning is happening at Duke include: Digital Scholarship Services, OIT Training, Data and Visualization Services, and the Wired! Lab.

dhi@fhi logo

Theoretical and Critical Approaches

Although taken up by many communities, "Digital Humanities" is a complicated and sometimes contested term. Theorists, practitioners, and critics have weighed in on the question of what is included and not included in that definition. Is the digital a modifier of humanities practice as it has been understood within existing disciplines? Is it inherently distinct? Is it is a set of tools and methods in its own right? How are theory, code, teaching, public-facing scholarship, activism understood within and across the field? How are the intersecting power relations that affect other aspects of academia played out in this "field"? And how is digital scholarship to be evaluated within and across these frameworks of interaction? Does DH include non-textual forms of analysis, as it so often does at Duke? If so, how, and in what relation to prior traditions of humanities computing? What are the relationships between DH and media studies? Science and technology studies? Race, gender, sexuality, and postcolonial studies?  Communications studies? Performance studies? Informatics? Software studies? Physical Computing? Installation art? Data and visualization?

Our concept of Digital Humanities is meant to embrace these questions by including a variety of perspectives on them, and providing opportunities to explore and interrogate this emerging set of practices online and through courses, workshops, and sponsored/co-sponsored events and projects.  We encourage DH-interested scholars to investigate related opportunities like Bass Connections, Archives Alive, the Information Initiative, the PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge (graduate students), the STEAM Challenge, the Computational Media, Arts & Cultures Rendez-Vous, the Visualization Friday Forum, and the various workshop opportunities featured here - and to bring back some of the perspectives they have gained back to their own work and local scholarly communities. 

Digital Storytelling and Exhibitions

Digital Storytelling and Exhibitions

This theme focuses on the range of approaches to creating narrative and interactive experiences using digital tools and hybrid media systems. The emphasis is on approaches that take advantage of computational media affordances for construction and playback. This topic also includes exhibition design with significant digital and interactive components. Common toolsets include the Knightlab digital storytelling tools such as TimelineJS, StoryMap, Juxtapose, Soundcite or ESRI Storymap for maps.

Data Visualization

Data Visualization

Concept: Data visualization encompasses a wide range of practices focused on the transformation of quantitative or otherwise segmented information into visual forms to convey information and sometimes provide interactive engagement with data sources. This topic also includes the creation of data itself, and histories and theories of information processing. 

The Duke Libraries Data and Visualization Sciences, as well as the Social Science Research Institute provide workshops and consulting around data visualization. Some courses in Art, Art History & Visual Studies and Information Science + Studies also provide opportunities to learn more about data visualization and analysis.



Concept: Projects related to the making and unmaking of sound. Sound Studies is an emerging interdisciplinary field that explores the idea of sound from cultural, aesthetic, and scientific perspectives. it also considers technologies of reproduction and circulation.

The Department of Music is a primary site for the study and creation of music, both traditional and conceptual, and including work with technology-mediated approaches to music composition and performance. The Program in Dance engages with technology and performance through a variety of programs and projects, incorporating sound and other media in their work. 



Crystal Palace

3D Modeling/Visualization

Concept: Scanning and Modeling real and imagined dimensional objects and environments for critical, historical, and creative purposes. This includes both 3D imaging from photos, lasers, and other tools and drawing in 3D software environments. Some 3D Models are also printed out as material objects.

The Wired Lab for Digital Art History & Visual Culture, and the various labs associated with Computational Media, Arts & Cultures, use these approaches to their research and teaching. Courses on 3D modeling and visualization are taught in the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies and Information Science + Studies. The Innovation Co-Lab provides 3D printing services in several locations on campus.