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English language and digital literacies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of English Language and Digital Humanities
EditorsSvenja Adolphs, Dawn Knight
Place of PublicationLondon, United Kingdom
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781003031758
ISBN (Print)9781138901766
E-pub ahead of print8 May 2020
PublishedMay 2020

King's Authors


The term ‘digital literacy’ (and increasingly ‘digital literacies’ in the plural) has been used to describe a wide range of skills and critical competences, but the term features surprisingly little in discussions about the digital humanities, which represents a common interface between the humanities and digital culture. In this chapter, Spence explores the definitional challenges for the term ‘digital literacies’, examines the underlying conditions in which digital literacies operate and traces the outline of a possible agenda for digital literacies, not only for English studies but the humanities as a whole. Grounding discussion in four key conditions (digital culture in society, digital scholarship, the digital humanities and new learning environments), the chapter draws together a selection of different models for both understanding and implementing digital literacies and analyses how they might be applied effectively to the humanities. It argues that the humanities need greater attention to digital literacies, but that, equally, digital literacy agendas benefit from a critical humanities perspective. The digital humanities invite us to rethink the nature of knowledge and learning in new media landscapes and to engage not only with a new set of social and communicative process but also with digital methods which currently stretch digital critical-competency levels in the humanities. The chapter argues that the digital humanities are a legitimate place to bring all of these elements together and to foster critical digital literacies in the humanities which are able to adapt to constantly changing media dynamics.

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