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Digital Transformations in the Arts and Humanities

Theme Overview

Digital Transformations aims to exploit the potential of digital technologies to transform research in the arts and humanities. The theme aims to ensure that arts and humanities research is at the forefront of tackling crucial issues such as intellectual property, cultural memory and identity, and communication and creativity in a digital age.

Innovation, creativity, and public interest in the arts and humanities has been at the forefront of the development of the digital age. At the same time digital innovation, the on-line revolution, the potential for an ‘infinite archive’, and associated changes to the way both people and organisations interact are opening up new opportunities and challenges for arts and humanities research.

There is huge potential to develop new ways of working to enhance access and creativity, but the digital age also raises complex questions of responsibility, identity, privacy, and data security that need to be addressed.

Engineers, computer scientists, and developers are providing the infrastructure for these changes but innovation within the arts and humanities will be essential to exploiting their potential to transform methods of organising, interpreting, and using knowledge.

Arts and humanities research provides perspectives on issues such as forms of knowledge and perception, modes of reproduction and dissemination, and the ways in which society as a whole communicates and uses knowledge. These research perspectives are crucial in understanding the potential, scope, limits, and impacts of digital technologies.

Probing these research issues will engage a broad range of partners in creative and cultural industries e.g. theatre companies, national institutions, galleries, publishing, law, and media companies.

The results of research into digital transformations will be of significant benefit to individuals, policy makers, business, cultural organisations, and researchers.

Theme Development

The AHRC has identified Digital Transformations as a priority area. The AHRC is seeking to build on existing links and establish new ones between this theme and other current activities, within the Research Councils and beyond(e.g. the current RCUK Digital Economy theme in which AHRC is an active partner, in order to maximise our work in this broad area.

Based on our initial scoping activities, some ideas for possible research areas are:

The potential and impact of digital change on:

  • how we communicate and use knowledge in the context of the ‘infinite archive’, including changes in forms of knowledge and how we conduct research, modes of reproduction and dissemination
  • the human implications of the expanded archive, including memory, perception, truth, ethics, and the use of language
  • changes in publishing, notions of authorship, intellectual property, the rights and responsibilities of the individual and the state
  • the democratisation of scholarship and the globalisation of the knowledge economy
  • transformations of disciplines and inter-disciplinarity
  • international or ‘at distance’ collaborative working
  • questions of access and availability, and new forms of expression, in the creative and performing arts

Further information and opportunities on Digital Transformations will be made available as the theme progresses.

You can also download the Digital Transformations theme leaflet (PDF, 1.1MB).

An Advisory Group has been established to assist with the further development of this theme.