Center for Digital Humanities now part of Vanderbilt University libraries

The Center for Digital Humanities is now part of the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries. Established in 2016 with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the center provides a hub for exploration at the intersection of innovative technology and humanities research.

“The libraries have been active collaborators with the Center for Digital Humanities over its early years,” University Librarian Jon Shaw said. “We are enthusiastic about taking this experience to a greater level of partnership to leverage support from existing library centers and programs to embed discovery in the digital humanities.”

Vanderbilt has launched several global digital projects that enhance scholarship in the digital humanities and bolster the university’s international reputation, including the Slave Societies Digital Archive led by Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of History Jane Landers;  Associate Professor of the History of Christianity David Michelson’s work on The Syriac Reference Portal;  Professor of French Lynn Ramey’s exploration of immersive learning in Brendan’s Voyage: An Immersive Environment for Medieval Language and Culture; and digital humanities projects created by faculty and graduate student Mellon Fellows. The libraries’ expanded collaboration with the center builds on these projects’ momentum, successes, established infrastructure and scale engagement. The partnership also introduces life cycle and project management to these initiatives by centralizing existing centers built around the transformative uses of technology.

“Under the thoughtful leadership of Lynn Ramey and Madeleine Casad, the Center for Digital Humanities plays a vital role in the university’s intellectual community,” said John G. Geer, Ginny and Conner Searcy Dean of the College of Arts and Science. “All of our lives are enriched by understanding the cultural record of human expression and human experience—including literature, history, philosophy, arts and languages. This connection with the university’s libraries will increase the visibility, impact and reach of the center’s important work.”

The libraries are in a unique position to expand the center’s reach through collaborative resources and services by:

  • transforming the understanding and creation of shared cultural heritage through emerging digital technology and research methods;
  • fostering trans-disciplinary teaching and learning through collaborative experimentation, shared learning and discovery;
  • advancing critical and creative thinking among students by facilitating high-impact practices, including undergraduate research, common intellectual experiences and experiential learning; and
  • bi-directionally connecting the Vanderbilt community with the world by both exposing unique collections and forging partnerships with the Nashville community to generate new knowledge about our local cultural heritage.

Working closely with the libraries’ digital scholarship, the Department of Teaching and Learning and the libraries’ distinctive collections, the Center for Digital Humanities will continue to consult and partner with faculty on digital project development, management and preservation; identify, experiment with, teach and implement emergent tools and methods; and connect faculty with campus support.

“The Center for Digital Humanities has expanded the way that scholars understand, study and collaborate around digital humanities,” said Bonnie Dow, dean of academic affairs in the College of Arts and Science and principal investigator for the Mellon Foundation grant that launched the center. “From faculty and student working groups to guest speakers and special events to providing resources and training, they have been a valuable presence on campus. I look forward to seeing the center’s new innovations, programs and accomplishments with this exciting development.”