New Digital Humanities Major Coming to Champlain in Fall 2024


QUEERING THE MAP is an online mapping platform for members of the LGBTQ+ community to share their experiences in relation to physical space. Each location symbol has a story, whether it’s as simple as “We said we loved each other” or an elaborate retelling of someone coming out to their close friend. 

Artists in Paris is a digital art history project showcasing the 18th Century art world in Paris.

The Princeton & Slavery Project investigates the university’s involvement with slavery and how it still plays a role in institutional racism.

All of these projects, and more, are part of the digital humanities field, a major coming to Champlain College in the fall of 2024.

The field of digital humanities developed initially for people who wanted to use computing in order to ask humanistic-based questions, according to Core Professor and Roger H. Perry Endowed Chair 2022-23 Katheryn Wright.

“For example, they wanted to do data analysis of a Shakespearean sonnet,” Wright explained. “So how can you apply this statistical informational software or something into humanities-based questions?”

It all boils down to “trying to connect the dots between digital analysis, textual analysis, information science and the humanities, history, religion,” amongst other things, according to Wright.

Champlain’s version combines those questions with the idea of applying culture and critique to the digital world. What cultural practices have developed alongside the technology humans have access to 24/7?

“People make a lot of assumptions about the role technology plays in their lives, and what digital humanities does is identify and outline and examine those assumptions in a critical way,” Wright said.

Champlain’s Digital Humanities major will be different for each student, depending on what they choose to specialize in. Hypothetically, one student could choose Professional Writing as a concentration within digital humanities, whereas another could choose Applied Sustainability. Both students will take eight classes focusing on digital humanities and eight classes in their preferred concentration, meaning they will graduate with the same major but have vastly different options for careers.

Wright said that there is a need for digital humanities because of its flexibility. 

“As somebody who’s coming into college, you need opportunities to figure out what you want to do,” she said. “And the way to figure out what you want to do is to actually do it.”

According to Wright, the perfect characteristics for someone looking into digital humanities are someone willing to experiment and who wants to look at things from a different viewpoint. 

Wright, along with Core Professor Jonathan Banfill, is currently collaborating with UVM on a digital humanities project that focuses on soundscapes in rural and urban Vermont. The project involves collecting sounds and analyzing how people talk about sound in relation to the city versus rural locations. Wright is looking forward to bringing student researchers onto the project to give them opportunities for applied research.

“Asking questions about connecting what it means to be human with a technological world,” she said. “I mean, I feel like that’s often the part that’s ignored when you think about technology and technological development: how this impacts actual people.”