About UC Digital Humanities

Students interested in learning more about Digital Humanities are encouraged to contact Dr. James Smithies. Office Hours Tuesday and Thursday, 1-2 pm, Room 604 History building, University of Canterbury. Phone +64 (0)3 364 2896


Digital humanists use digital tools and methods to develop, analyze, and publish their research. Digital Humanities or ‘DH’ courses offer students both an understanding of how the digital world is engineered, and the tools and methods needed to research and publish in today’s digital environment. Research tends to be inter-disciplinary, across both humanities and social science disciplines, and into computer science. DH is also highly vocational, in that it offers the project management and design knowledge needed to produce digital humanities outputs. Digital humanists have also begun to advocate for the value of the humanities as a whole, using their connections with industry and other disciplines to explain why the humanities matter. DH functions as a central cog within the humanities, increasing capability with digital tools and methods across all the disciplines and offering an option for students who would like to augment their degrees with digital elements. Although still tightly connected to the older Humanities Computing tradition through its professional organizations, Digital Humanities has expanded significantly since 2001 when the term was coined. Many universities are establishing courses and programmes, and over 200 centres operate worldwide.


Digital Humanities has a strong history at the University of Canterbury, going back to the days of punch cards and mainframes, which Geoffrey Rice from the History department used to analyze the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. More recently, Denis Dutton produced Arts and Letters Daily, and Jack Copeland worked with overseas colleagues to create the Turing Archive for the History of Computing from the Philosophy department. This tradition has been continued in the development of the UC CEISMIC Canterbury Earthquake Digital Archive by Paul Millar and James Smithies, now managed by Chris Thomson and the UC CEISMIC Programme Office. Many other digital humanities projects have been created at the University of Canterbury, and many are in progress. History, Philosophy, Classics, Art History, and English all have staff interested in some aspect of DH, and significant additional expertise can be found in UC libraries. Paul Millar and New Zealand’s first senior lecturer in digital humanities, James Smithies, are leading the development of UC Digital Humanities. Honours courses and inter-disciplinary theses will be offered for the first time in 2014, and digital pathways and internships are being developed across a range of undergraduate courses in the School of Humanities.



Access the administrative documents and course outlines for the UCDH Honours programme here.


Technical and Written Requirements

Technical skills are welcome if you’ve got them, but an interest and willingness to learn are far more important. While digital humanists borrow some tools and methods from computer science, none of the technical aspects of the programme are explicitly graded. Students will get a basic introduction to programming in one of our courses (DIGI 401), but are encouraged to head to Computer Science and Software Engineering for further instruction.

Humanities students have the ideal background for digital humanities study, of course, but students from any UC department are welcome to enrol. Our discipline is highly inter-disciplinary, and we want to encourage as broad a range of students as possible. Overseas initiatives have shown that incredible things can happen when scientists, geographers, computer scientists, and engineers put their minds to humanities questions. Arts and humanities students enjoy the chance to collaborate with colleagues from all parts of the campus, and vice versa. If you’ve got an interest in the humanities, and are confident you’ve got the skills to produce high quality written content, contact Dr. James Smithies.



Learn about the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO) and our local constituent organization, the Australasian Association of Digital Humanities (aaDH).


The Praxis Network and UC Digital Pathways

UC Digital Humanities (UCDH) is a member of The Praxis Network, a group including digital humanists from the University of Virginia, Hope College, Duke University, Michigan State University, Graduate Center CUNY, University College London, and Brock University. Praxis Network programs are allied but differently-inflected humanities education initiatives, mainly focused on graduate training, and all engaged in rethinking pedagogy and campus partnerships in relation to the digital. Among other elements, the initiatives emphasize new models of methodological training and collaborative research. Each program exists within a particular ecosystem of disciplinary expectations, institutional needs, available resources, leadership styles, and specific challenges. The UC Digital Humanities team aim to create Digital Humanities pathways from undergraduate and graduate study to work-based internships, offering students the opportunity to apply their skills in real-world contexts. Our digital pathways provide a model for a broad range of humanities and social science disciplines, enabling the entire tradition. UCDH students are part of a global effort to understand our digital world, develop and apply new research tools and methods, and reinvigorate the humanities.