Computers and the Humanities



A Companion to Digital Humanities. Ed. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth. Malden: Blackwell, 2004. 611 pp. Blackwell Companions to Lit. and Culture. AZ105.C588 001.3′0285.

A multidisciplinary collection of essays intended to document the evolution of humanities computing and its present state and to suggest future directions for research and applications. Of most interest to users of this Guide will be the essays on literary studies, performing arts, databases, marking up texts, text encoding, audiences for and purposes of electronic texts, stylistic analysis and authorship studies, preparation and analysis of linguistic corpora, electronic editing, textual analysis, thematic digital collections, print scholarship and digital resources, digital media and the analysis of film, cognitive stylistics, designing sustainable projects and publications, converting primary sources to digital form, tools for text analysis, and interfaces. Predictably, the essays vary in quality: the best offer clear, practical introductions or overviews (“Text Tools”), but some are too heavily theoretical at the expense of the historical (“Literary Studies”), others are too technical (“Databases”) or simplistic (“How the Computer Works”), and some are ponderous (“History of Humanities Computing”); even so, Companion to Digital Humanities offers the best general introduction to this amorphous field.

Despite its title, Willard McCarty, Humanities Computing (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005; 311 pp.), never moves much beyond an unsuccessful attempt to theorize the field.

See also

Sec. I: Internet Resources.

Electronic Textual Editing (U5217).

Howard-Hill, Literary Concordances (U5680).

Shillingsburg, Scholarly Editing in the Computer Age (U5230).

Guides to Scholarship


Humanities Computing Yearbook, [1988–90]: A Comprehensive Guide to Software and Other Resources. Oxford: Clarendon–Oxford UP, 1988–91. Annual. Z699.5.H8.H85 016.0013′0285.

A survey of scholarship, software, and other resources for computing in the humanities. The first volume covers materials through 1987. Entries are divided among 29 divisions: archaeology; art history; biblical studies; computational linguistics; creative writing; dance; drama; English-language instruction; folklore; historical studies; law; lexicography; linguistics; musicology; natural languages and literatures (classified by language, with English subdivided by historical period); philosophy; bibliographic databases; editing and publishing; information management; programming languages; second-language instruction; statistics; text analysis; text-processing techniques; bibliographies; electronic texts; general guides and history; optical character recognition; people and places. Each division or section consists of three parts: an overview of the topic; a selected, descriptively annotated bibliography of publications; and a list of software and databases. Several entries are annotated, some extensively; however, descriptions of software are usually based on information from vendors rather than independent evaluation. Many software entries helpfully cite reviews or related materials. Indexed by persons, product names, companies, and subjects. The volume for 1989–90 successfully addressed many of the problems that plagued the one for 1988: inadequate indexing, inconsistencies in classifying entries, use of several nonmutually exclusive sections, lack of cross-references, and generally shoddy editing. Humanities Computing Yearbook offers admirably broad coverage of software and publications (scholarly as well as technical and popular), with vol. 1 the best available guide to the important early work involving computers and the humanities. With the yearbook’s unfortunate demise a serial bibliography of computing in the humanities became again a major desideratum. Review: (1988) Joseph Raben, Computers and the Humanities 24.1–2 (1990): 111–13 (however, many of the shortcomings identified by Raben were remedied).

See also

Sec. G: Serial Bibliographies, Indexes, and Abstracts.

ABELL (G340): Language, Literature, and the Computer division since the volume for 1971.

MLAIB (G335): General IV: Themes and Types/Computer-Assisted [Literary] Research in the volumes for 1966–80; Professional Topics/Computer-Assisted Research in pt. 4 of the volumes for 1981–99; and Research Tools/Computer-Assisted Research in the later volumes. Researchers must also check the headings beginning “Computation,” “Computational,” “Computer,” “Digital,” or “Electronic” in the subject index to post-1980 volumes and in the online thesaurus.

Computer Programs


TACT [Text-Analysis Computing Tools]. Vers. 2.1. Computing in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Faculty of Arts and Science, U of Toronto, n.d. 31 Dec. 2014. <>.

A shareware text-analysis program that is useful for detecting patterns in a writer’s use of words, phrases, or themes; for attributing authorship; for producing concordances (though Oxford Concordance Program is better for preparing camera-ready copy for a printed concordance); and for comparing usage in two texts. Users must begin with Ian Lancashire, Using TACT with Electronic Texts: A Guide to Text-Analysis Computing Tools Version 2.1 for MS-DOS and PC DOS (New York: MLA, 1996; 361 pp.), which is accompanied by a CD-ROM with the most recent version and sample literary texts and which includes a chapter on how the program can be used in studying a text. This program is outdated, and researchers should instead use the tools available through

For a description of other text-analysis tools, see John Bradley, “Text Tools,” pp. 505–22 in A Companion to Digital Humanities (U5650).