Digital Humanities Tools Can Inform Media Studies
by Anne Dotter — University of Kansas
April 16, 2013 – 15:49
Practitioners of the Digital Humanities such as Dan Rosenberg, Arianne Dwyer or Giovanna Ceserani use digital research tools to make arguments in their respective disciplines. While the object of study itself might be digital in a field such as media studies, tools provided by the digital humanities can be used to do research within the realm of media studies.
A case in point is the digitization of recordings still only available on VHS tapes so as to make them searchable. Had 1980s French television shows been digitized when I consulted them at the TV archive in Paris a few years ago, I might have been able to locate the advertising, which in turn would have allowed me to elaborate my arguments. The digitization was then in process; these arguments will have to be made. While I wanted to locate such advertising so as to have a better insight into marketer's understanding of specific shows' demographics, the digitized files and their encoding likely will lend themselves to unforeseen findings.
Many more possible avenues for productive use of digital research techniques come to mind well beyond my narrow focus on - what Jonathan Gray called - paratexts. Further development of software and search engines would allow for the filtering of information in ways that would alter the research process as it currently is, and would in turn certainly affect the media studies scholarship thereby elicited. While this argument might appear somewhat slippery, it rests on the assumption that how we analyze and look at texts is more dynamic than the object of one's study, the what of any methodological framework. Following this logic, historians, linguists and classicists such as the three above cited scholars will be able to borrow from the digital humanities to develop scholarship in their own respective fields in the same way that media scholars can.
Image on the front page by andyaldridge and available on flickr.