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With digitalculturebooks, the University of Michigan Press publishes innovative work in new media studies and digital humanities. We began in 2006 as a partnership between MLibrary and the Press, taking advantage of the skills and expertise of staff throughout Michigan Publishing. Our primary goal is to be an incubator for new publishing models in the humanities and social sciences.

Traces of the Old, Uses of the New

The Emergence of Digital Literary Studies
Amy E. Earhart
Mapping the history of digital literary scholarship, Earhart stakes a claim for discipline-specific histories of digital study


Digital Humanities remains a contested, umbrella term covering many types of work in numerous disciplines, including literature, history, linguistics, classics, theater, performance studies, film, media studies, computer science, and information science. In Traces of the Old, Uses of the New: The Emergence of Digital Literary Studies, Amy Earhart stakes a claim for discipline-specific history of digital study as a necessary prelude to true progress in defining Digital Humanities as a shared set of interdisciplinary practices and interests.

Traces of the Old, Uses of the New focuses on twenty-five years of developments, including digital editions, digital archives, e-texts, text mining, and visualization, to situate emergent products and processes in relation to historical trends of disciplinary interest in literary study. By reexamining the roil of theoretical debates and applied practices from the last generation of work in juxtaposition with applied digital work of the same period, Earhart also seeks to expose limitations in need of alternative methods—methods that might begin to deliver on the early (but thus far unfulfilled) promise that digitizing texts allows literature scholars to ask and answer questions in new and compelling ways. In mapping the history of digital literary scholarship, Earhart also seeks to chart viable paths to its future, and in doing this work in one discipline, this book aims to inspire similar work in others.

“Earhart’s thorough accounting of the early decades of digital literary studies sets the standard for scholarship about the origins of the digital humanities. Through nuanced analyses and rich theorizations, Earhart prompts digital humanists and literary scholars alike to reconsider the relation between the two fields, illuminating the shape—and impact—of work to come.”
—Lauren Klein, Georgia Institute of Technology

“In her new book, Amy Earhart has given us a timely, valuable history of the first decades of digital scholarship in literature departments, and a set of authoritative, clear-eyed recommendations for the future. Surveying the trends and mapping the territory, she reveals the potential and challenge of the digital humanities for current practice and belief in literary studies.”
—Andrew Stauffer, University of Virginia

“In her highly anticipated book, Amy Earhart offers keen insight on the state of digital literary studies. She skillfully takes on tensions between textual studies, cultural studies, and scholarly communication, making a compelling case for attention to disciplinary practices within the interdisciplinary field of digital humanities. A forerunner on cultural critique within digital humanities through her work on the 19th-Century Concord Digital Archive, Earhart emphasizes the important role of the field in expanding literary canons and diversifying knowledge production.”
—Roopika Risam, Salem State University

Cover: © Fred Clark (anyjazz) CC-BY-2.0

Amy E. Earhart is Associate Professor of English at Texas A&M University.

Praise / Awards

  • "In this era of digital humanities self-critique, Amy Earhart’s Traces of the Old, Uses of the New: The Emergence of Digital Literary Studies is a welcome contribution to the conversation about the underpinnings of the digital humanities, specifically its development within the context of English literary studies in the United States."
    -- Textual Cultures

News, Reviews, Interviews

Read: Review of Traces of the Old, Uses of the New in Textual Cultures Link | 4/19/2019

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 172pp.
  • 18 figures.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2015
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07278-1

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  • $49.95 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2015
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05278-3

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  • $29.95 U.S.

  • Open Access
  • 2015
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-90068-8

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