The definition of the Digital Humanities is something that an international and diverse community of scholars and practitioners are continually formulating, rethinking, questioning, and demonstrating through projects and collaborations of many different kinds. The rich variety of digital humanities projects is as immense as it is remarkable. Needless to say, the answer to the question of “what is the digital humanities?” can be a little muddy. I have come to define the Digital Humanities as a branch of scholarship and academic research that is publicly visible, more collaborative, and more accessible than traditional academic research, precisely because it lives an active 24/7 life online. It is the new era of academic research.
My first exposure to Digital Humanities was in Fall 2016 when I began working on a digital scholarly edition of Jorge de Montemayorâ’s La Diana. I worked collaboratively with a group of talented and enthusiastic students, under the guidance and tutelage of Dr. Kathryn Vomero Santos for her “Poetry, Politics, and the Pastoral in Renaissance England” course. As a class, we worked to generate a transcription and annotation list for Bartholomew Yong’s 1598 English translation of Montemayor’s text and the two subsequent sequels by Alonso Perez and Gaspar Gil Polo. During the transcription process, we were faced with difficult decisions about letter choice and spelling differentiation. Due to the text’s early modern origins, printing practices often resulted in mistakes and misspellings caused by the variability of typeface and penchant for human error. We worked industriously and meticulously, watching a text that had long lain relatively untouched and unusable to centuries of students come alive with every stroke of the keyboard. We were transforming a text actively and with purpose. Just like Bartholomew Yong, who through his diligent translation made a magnificent Spanish text accessible to the English-speaking world, we, too, were participating in a form of translation, a translation into the digital age.
Since then, I’ve continued my work on Montemayor’s Los Siete Libros de La Diana. Through a continued collaboration with Dr. Kathryn Vomero Santos and the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture at Texas A&M University, I have worked to research bibliographic information and sources for both Montemayor’s Spanish pastoral and Bartholomew Yong’s English translation. Our goals are broad and far-reaching, but by making La Diana available through Digital Humanities work, we are expanding the scope and accessibility of academic research as well as opening the door for an international discussion of Shakespearean source study.