E-text in the humanities: Top ten four contributions


Computers and computer technologies have already made a significant impact in most areas of academic study in universities today, including in the Humanities. As a discipline, the Humanities are focused on the human experience, but with a particular interest in language and literature (especially the Classics), grammar, rhetoric, and the dissemination of ideas. It is a particularly language- and, therefore, text-rich discipline, so it is of little wonder that the text based aspects of the computer have had the greatest impact in the Humanities.

Scholars are using electronic text (e-text) in a wide variety of ways to aid in their work. My initial intention with this study was to investigate the top ten ways in which e-text has influenced work in the Humanities today. Finding ten and only ten key uses proved difficult to do. Many uses were quite similar in nature, and ranking some as more important than others is too subjective in such a broad-based discipline. The ways a linguist might use e-text will vary considerable to the ways a historian might, or a visual artist. Moreover, as I looked into the matter, it became apparent to me that all the various different uses of e-text actually conflate into four main categories regardless of the specific department within the Humanities: production of text, the processing of text, the analysis of text, and access to text. The following pages, then, will look at these four areas and examine some specific ways in which e-text is revolutionising the work of scholars today.