Digital humanities in Estonia

Keywords: digital humanities, data in humanities, digital methods

The article serves as a preface to the special issue on digital humanities of Keel ja Kirjandus. The aim of the issue is to familiarize the Estonian readers with the complex and controversial notion of digital humanities by way of examples. The issue gathers overviews of themes and methods in digital humanities along with empirical case studies representing them. We provide a brief discussion on what digital humanities is and why we need it. We consider that the core of digital humanities is the integration of digital data into humanities research. A growing amount of materials of interest to the humanities are now becoming digitized or digitally born. Archival institutions that maintain it have become recently active in facilitating their use for research purposes. Digital humanities can provide the methods, tools and the research community to take advantage of these opportunities. The digitalization of society is happening on many levels and humanities have a chance to contribute to its understanding and benefit from its opportunities. The label digital humanities itself can work as a pragmatic banner at this stage of development, potentially leading to digital skills becoming the norm also in the humanities departments at some point. The articles collected in this special issue give a good overview of the status quo of digital humanities in Estonia, representing various research directions and methods. The articles offer a variety of different perspectives and practical applications in their respective fields related to digital humanities. We believe that the area of digital humanities can advance via practical examples and an understanding of the developments of digital methods in neighbouring fields. We hope that further developments in this field will provide grounds for the compilation of other such thematic issues in the very near future.


Peeter Tinits (b. 1986), MA, University of Tartu, Digital Humanities Specialist in the Centre for Digital Humanities and Text Mining Specialist at the Social Studies Institute (Jakobi 2, 51005 Tartu; National Library of Estonia, Digital Humanities Specialist,

Jane Klavan (b. 1983), PhD, University of Tartu, College of Foreign Languages and Cultures, Associate Professor of English Language (J. Liivi 4, 50409 Tartu),

Liina Lindström (b. 1973), PhD, University of Tartu, Professor of Modern Estonian and Head of the Centre for Digital Humanities and Information Society (Jakobi 2–443, 51005 Tartu),