Digital Humanities and Electronic Resources in the Long Eighteenth Century


Correspondence: School of English, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NZ, UK. Email:


The field of eighteenth-century studies at its broadest extent – taking in the English Restoration, the Enlightenment, and the Romantic period – has changed significantly since the beginning of the twenty-first century due to the impact of electronic resources on research methods and on the accessibility of primary research materials. Theorists of the digital humanities writing at the end of the previous century argued that the computerization of humanities research would make the editing and archiving of historical texts more subtle and fluid. This article argues that humanities computing has in fact moved away from editing and textual criticism toward the development of larger and more interoperable databases. Current digital humanities in the long eighteenth century are defined by the Enlightenment virtues of pragmatism and communicability, but they have yet to attain the Enlightenment ideals of openness and refinement.