How do you define a revolution? When does an idea turn into a movement and lead to political change? Who are the players and what did they do to make it happen? These are merely some of the questions that can be answered by the Digital Humanities.
The digital medium is allowing researchers to ask questions in the humanities that were not possible without computers. Constance Crompton, an Assistant Professor, Digital Humanities, in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at the University of British Columbia, is a digital humanist who is modernizing searches through dusty archives with databases and semantic web technology.
In one of her current projects, she is co-directing an effort to uncover how the digital medium can inform Canada’s role in the gay liberation movement. Using Donald McLeod’s Lesbian and Gay Liberation In Canada: A Selected Annotated Chronology (Vol. 1 & 2) as a base text, the Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada (LGLC) project is leveraging computational tools to study the people, literature and events that led to legal reforms in Canada. The outputs from the project are freely available to the public through the project’s website and anyone can perform searches, a feature only made possible through public funding. With such a focus in our society on inclusion and diversity, there is the hope that projects like the LGLC, which aid us in understanding the struggles people went through in the past, can help us build a more inclusive future.
Want to learn more about how to go about conducting studies in digital humanities? Check out Prof. Crompton’s book, “Doing Digital Humanities: Practice, Training, Research” or visit her in UBCO’s Humanities Data Lab.