On 28 May, 2015, members of the GAAS's Electronic Publishing and Digital Scholarship Initiative (EPDSI) convened a roundtable as part of the association's sixty-second annual conference in Bonn. The roundtable was attended by approximately fifteen American studies scholars and facilitated a lively exchange about the current state of digital humanities in (German) American studies.
Digital American Studies?
In a first round of exchange, participants discussed digital humanities projects in German American studies, a conversation that resulted in two observations: 1) There currently is very little information on (and hardly any exchange among) digital humanities projects in German American studies. 2) More fundamentally, it seems that many DH projects currently are pursued by German studies programs (in Germany) and by English studies departments (in anglophone contexts). If DH continues to be as dynamic (and as attractive to funding) as it currently is, the lack of American studies-oriented DH work will not only hurt American studies in disciplinary competition; it also means that many of the academic (and political) goals of American studies are lost to DH scholarship. Indeed, participants pointed out, many DH projects seem to show a noticeable bias to conventional canons and to conservative scholarly positions.
Over the course of the discussion, participants identified a range of areas requiring further attention and decided to open up the EPDSI to matters of digital scholarship more generally. This resulted in a name change to Digital American Studies Initiative (DASI) and in a set of notes that now form the centerpiece of DASI’s mission statement.