The Digital Environmental Humanities. Towards Theory and Praxis
Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies
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Over the past years the rapid technological improvements, innovations and use of digital applications have transformed us into living and working in virtual environments. We are now facing 'oceans' of big data, inaugurating what has been called the “Digital Anthropocene.” Gaining momentum since around the 1950s, the Digital Humanities (previously referred to as Humanities Computing or Computing in the Humanities) “is a diverse and still emerging field that encompasses the practice of humanities research in and through information technology, and the exploration of how the humanities may evolve through their engagement with technology, media, and computational methods.” As we move from the first wave of qualitative data to the second, which is apt to be more critical, interpretative and empirical with the use of toolkits and services (Presner, 2010), the rise of a third wave introduces entirely new interdisciplinary paradigms, convergent fields, new methodologies and concepts as well as new models and patterns while working on cultural texts.
Although the disciplines of Digital Humanities and Environmental Humanities appear to work with different methodological approaches (Posthumus and Sinclair, 2016: 370), they can provide a shared space for exploring questions such as how nature could be in dialogue with a computer or how technology could help us to understand environmental issues. Both disciplines adopt common vocabulary such as “environment,” “system,” “network, “collectivism,” “individualism” while approaching texts. The Digital Humanities and Environmental Humanities are “interdisciplinary and collaborative” disciplines (Cohen and LeMenager, 2016: 340) where “[n]ew tools, new metaphors, provide second-order feedback loops that inform the original metaphors of nature and ecology” (Morey, 2012: 119). Their collaborative work aims through new critical tools to shed light on the complex entanglements of nature with the digital sphere, and their relationship to each other when introduced into a system. A well-known concept across research is “digital ecologies” or “digital ecology or environment” (Wellmon, 2012: 77), which describes multiple reading and virtual environments, including their interactions made possible by the use of digital analysis tools while working on a text or database.
As Finne Arne Jørgensen notes, the “idea of nature is becoming very hard to separate from the digital tools and media we use to observe, interpret, and manage it” (2014, 109). This interweaving presents a challenge that we have to face while developing and applying digital tools, applications, portals, repositories, and curated interactive objects to expand the research of Digital Environmental Humanities.
In this journal issue, we will explore exactly how the disciplines of Digital Humanities and Environmental Humanities can provide us with new perspectives and critical tools. In particular, considering mainly literary studies, philosophy studies, media studies, visual studies and Art, we will explore and discuss the different ways in which concepts such as digital ecologies, digital environments, networks and so forth are approached by these disciplines in both theory and praxis. The new approaches and concepts form a ‘digital turn’ in the humanities, expanding the relationship between humans and the more-than-human world, and the characteristics of such a relationship, under which conditions (hybrid, symbiotic, etc.) and for what purposes, for example, education. Furthermore, the Digital Environmental Humanities offer insights on “Citizen Humanities” in which the involvement of public space, citizens and academia assists the better understanding of the practical aspects of the relationship between the human and the more-than-human world.
We invite papers that consider the various interactions between Digital Humanities and Environmental Humanities in order to open up new forms of inquiry for critical approaches to the Humanities. Areas of interest for this special journal issue include, but are not limited to, the following topics:
● Digital Environmental Humanities in Literary Theory (Ecocriticism, Algorithmic Literary Theory) and Comparative Literature
● Digital Geographies and Spatialities
● Digitalocene (e.g. Anthropocene, Capitalocene, etc.)
● Digital Tools, Digital Applications, Digital Repositories and Archives, Data Visualization in/for Environmental Humanities
● Digital Ecologies and Topics from the Continental Philosophy
● Digital Environmental Humanities and Posthumanism, Transhumanism, AI, and Ethics
● Digital Ecologies, Plant Studies, and Animal Studies
● Digital Ecologies, Aesthetics and Art
● Digital Ecologies in Media and Film Studies
● Digital Environmental Humanities and Environmental Justice
● Digital Ecologies, Medical Humanities (e.g. Pandemics) and Biotechnology
● Digital Oil and Energy Humanities
● Digital Environmental Pedagogies and Storytelling
● Digital Ecologies in Citizen Humanities, Smart Cities and Citizenship Futures
● Biomimicry and Digital Modeling
● Towards the future of Digital Environmental Humanities as Discipline in Theory and Praxis
Cohen, Jerome Jeffrey, and Stephanie LeMenager. “Introduction. Assembling the Ecological Digital
Humanities”, PMLA 131.2 (2016): 340-346. doi: 10.1632/pmla.2016.131.2.340.
Jørgensen, Finne Arne. “The Armchair Traveler’s Guide to Digital Environmental Humanities”,
Environmental Humanities 4.1 (2014): 95-112. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/22011919-3614944.
Morey, Sean. “Digital Ecologies” in Dobrin, I. Sidney. (2012). (Ed.). Ecology, Writing Theory, and
New Media. Writing Ecology (New York and London: Routledge), 106-121.
Presner, Todd. (2010). “Digital Humanities 2.0: A Report on Knowledge” in Emerging Disciplines,
edited by Melissa Bailar (Houston: Rice University Press).
Sinclair, Stéfan and Stephanie Posthumus. (2016). “Digital? Environmental: Humanities” in The
Routledge Companion to Environmental Humanities edited by Ursula K. Heise, Jon Christensen and Michelle Niemann (London and New York: Routledge).
Wellmon, Chad. (2012). “Why Google Isn't Making Us Stupid…or Smart”. ISAC. The Hedgehog
Review. Critical Reflections on Contemporary Culture 14:1
<https://lecture.ecc.u-tokyo.ac.jp/~cwpgally/references/2012W_RD_Google_e..., [accessed 29/05/20222].
Peggy Karpouzou, Assistant Professor in Theory of Literature, Faculty of Philology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
Nikoleta Zampaki, PhD Candidate in Modern Greek Literature, Faculty of Philology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
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