Our History

Founded in 2010, the IDRH is a partnership between KU LibrariesThe Hall Center for the Humanities, and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

The Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities (IDRH) has served as an intellectual hub for the Digital Humanities community at the University of Kansas since it was established in 2010. A collaborative venture from the beginning, the IDRH was founded with the support and guidance of three campus entities—the Hall Center for the Humanities, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and University of Kansas Libraries. 

Founding codirectors Arienne Dwyer (2010-2018) and Brian Rosenblum (2010-present) launched the IDRH's core programs and activities with a dual emphasis on research and pedagogy. They established an interdisciplinary advisory board of scholars, students, and staff from KU and beyond, and focused on building an active and inclusive DH community across the university.  

Programs established in the IDRH’s early years include the DH Forum, an annual conference each year addressing a different general digital humanities theme; regular "learn-by-doing" workshops designed to introduce the KU community to digital humanities tools and practices; the DH Seminar, a monthly series of talks, co-organized with the Hall Center, for sharing and discussion of new digitally enabled humanities research efforts; seed grants to encourage KU faculty and academic staff to plan or pilot a collaborative project using digital technologies; teaching grants to help spur the development of an interdisciplinary palette of courses in digital humanities at KU; and mentorship of graduate and undergraduate students through the HASTAC Scholar’s Program. The IDRH staff also committed themselves to scholars at KU through individualized consultations and project-level support. 

These programs continued to grow under the oversight of interim leaders Phil Stinson (2015-2016), Tami Albin (2016) and co-director Sarah Bishop (2018-2019). The IDRH has been honored to support several postdoctoral researchers during this time, including Élika Ortega (2015-2016), Dhanashree Thorat (2017-2018), Whitney Sperrazza (2017-2018), and Sylvia Fernández (2020-present). These scholars have all left their own marks on the IDRH and the KU community, particularly in bringing a global outlook and focus to our digital humanities work. 

2020 saw a new phase of the IDRH begin, with Dave Tell (2020-present) taking the helm as co-director and Kaylen Dwyer joining the team as the IDRH’s first full-time staff member. With a renewed focus on digital storytelling, the IDRH launched several new programs. The DH Fellows are a cohort of faculty members and graduate students from across the university committed to thinking and working together for an academic year. The DH Colloquium is a series of virtual events focused on the ethics, politics, and techniques of digital storytelling. The DH reading group offers an informal forum for discussing recent DH books and literature. In 2020 the IDRH also established new collaborative international initiatives. African DH at KU, launched with affiliated faculty member James Yeku, presents opportunities for engaged discussions that center African perspectives and projects in the digital humanities. Huellas Incómodas is a collective of scholars and students from three countries, Mexico, Ecuador and the United States that seeks to document and contextualize the traces of local social protest movements through a non-hierarchical learn-by-doing approach. 

The IDRH by the numbers


As of January 2021, the IDRH has: 

  • Hosted nine DH Forums, bringing in audiences of up to 120 local, regional, national and international participants each year and served as a host partner for two major conferences— CoLang 2012 and Digital Frontiers 2018 
  • Organized over 170 workshops and seminar speakers since 2011, reaching an audience of over 1500 participants 
  • Coordinated or taught nine digital humanities courses since 2015 and supported an additional nine classes through our DH teaching grants 
  • Awarded five DH seed grants 
  • Consulted and supported numerous KU-based digital humanities research and teaching projects 
  • Supported and mentored 22 graduate and undergraduate HASTAC Scholars 
  • Funded thousands of miles of travel for KU students and faculty to attend DH conferences and training programs 
  • Supported staff who have served on multiple committees in International Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations since 2014