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How to Begin a Digital Humanities Project for Victorianists

Brainstorming, building, and deploying a Digital Humanities (DH) project is an exciting process. Although several resources defining the growing field of DH already exist (we recommend Lisa Spiro's "Getting Started in Digital Humanities"), this page offers resources targeted specifically at nineteenth-century scholars interested in learning more about DH. Before beginning any project you should ask yourself a few preliminary questions.

Questions to answer before beginning a DH project

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Now that you have decided on your project and identified constraints, it's time to expand your knowledge base. Remember, Digital Humanities projects never happen in vacuum. Below are several resources and ideas to help you get started with building your own project.

Digital Humanities as Critical Practice, Not Just Coding

DH practice as a whole has evolved from seeing DH as a coding-led endeavor, to a kind of critical endeavor that combines theory (including vibrant cultural critique), praxis, and pedagogy. One way into DH is to start with key debates in the field, to understand the rich cultural critique that individuals are now bringing to DH practice, and to consider how such interventions might be brought over to Victorian studies. Here are some places to start:

Can I Participate in DH Without Coding?

There are many ways to join the DH community with little to no programming knowledge. For instance, the coding work is done for you when you start a WordPress blog or create a COVE edition. You might also consider substituting a Twitter assignment for a more traditional journaling in your pedagogy. On a more theoretical level the minimal computing movement provides ways of thinking about DH that can exist beyond a robust knowledge of computational principles. For discussion of these ideas see:

However, if your apprehension about coding has more to do with the perceived difficulty than a conscious choice, we recommend taking advantage of the numerous resources available to learn these skills. You will likely find that online and in-person courses make programming not only accessible, but also fun.

Where to Learn DH Skills

Learn to Code

Scholars agree that learning at least a little coding is essential to fully participating in the field of DH. Although it seems daunting, there are many, many resources to help you learn this skill set. At minimum, we recommend learning HTML and CSS, before moving on to JavaScript, Python, Ruby, and R. Many of these resources are not aimed at humanists. If you are interested in resources written exclusively for academics, Scott Weingart has collected a comprehensive list of resources on the subject of "Teaching Yourself to Code in DH."


It's never too early to start thinking about funding your DH project. Luckily, there are a number of organizations that offer grants for DH projects. In addition to querying internal funding sources at your institution, the following sites and organizations are good resources for discovering and applying for grants.

This resource is one of many on the subject of getting started with DH. You may also want to review the materials provided on Simon Appleford and Jennifer Guiliano's Development for the Digital Humanities as well as the Intro to Digital Humanities: Concepts, Methods, and Tutorials for Students and Instructors, created by UCLA's Center for Digital Humanities.