American Council of Learned Societies
Occasional Paper No. 37

Information Technology in Humanities Scholarship:
Achievements, Prospects, and Challenges—
The United States Focus


This report surveys the various applications of information technology to research in the humanities. In the course of our investigations we came across a variety of innovative research that could have a profound impact on the humanities. However, the incidence of such work is uneven, and the widespread adoption of information technology in the humanities is being hindered by a number of significant obstacles. We also examine the challenges that must be overcome if such applications are to become the norm among scholars.

We present only a selective view of current activities, focusing primarily on work by American scholars, with some references to international projects of relevance to the humanities, since computer technology now makes scholarship a genuinely global enterprise. This overview is intended for scholars in the humanities who are not yet aware of what has been accomplished, as well as for those who direct and fund research and higher education. Their cooperation and understanding are needed for these obstacles to be overcome and for the potential of information technology in humanities scholarship to be realized.

In late 1997 a revised and expanded version of this publication will be made available as part of the American Arts and Letters Network (AALN).

Preface | I. Background
II. Information Technology and Scholarship | III. New Developments and Change
IV. To Challenge and Invigorate Future Scholarship | V. Principal Recommendations and Follow-up Activities