Literacies in a Digital Humanities Context: A Brief Introduction

This special issue of dh+lib began with a call for proposals early last Fall and a goal of publishing in February. In the middle of the article review process came the COVID-19 pandemic and for the health and sanity of our authors and editors, we delayed a few months. Now, amidst an ongoing pandemic and widespread protests against racism and police brutality, we present our special issue on digital humanities literacies–but are doing so in two parts. This first part, which falls under the rubric of “Literacies in a Digital Humanities Context,” addresses general literacies associated with digital humanities work. The second part (to be published in approximately two weeks), “Digital Humanities and Information Literacy,” consists of articles that more closely address the intersection of digital humanities and information literacy as expressed in the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.

The articles in this first group represent different takes on digital humanities literacies. Kayla Abner argues for the centrality of data literacy by focusing on threshold concepts illuminated by examples from the digital project Torn Apart/Separados. The next three articles work through how aspects of the digital humanities can facilitate teaching and learning different literacies. Jasmine Clark and Alex Wermer-Colan show how interactive, multimedia experiences can help lower barriers to primary source literacy by describing their work bringing the Charles Blockson Collection to high school students in Philadelphia. Olivia Wikle, Evan Williamson, and Devin Becker discuss how static web technologies (their own CollectionBuilder, in particular) engage students more deeply in the technical systems that enable web publishing. Jared Nistler and Sarah Ketchley provide a case study of an online digital humanities course that engaged a number of digital literacies while teaching the students text analysis using different platforms and approaches. For the final article in this cluster, Jason Crider and Wesley Smith interrogate the concept of digital literacy and ask a much bigger question: is digital literacy the appropriate framing for engaging with digital media today?

These articles are published thanks to the efforts of the editors of this special issue – Melanie Hubbard, Mackenzie Brooks, Jody Perkins, and John Russell – and the members of the dh+lib editorial staff who helped review proposals and articles – Sarah Melton, Patrick Williams, and Nickoal Eichmann-Kalwara. Our thanks also to the authors for the work and their patience!