A Game of Persistence, Self-doubt, and Curiosity: Surveying Code Literacy in Digital Humanities

Elli Bleeker, Marijn Koolen, Kaspar Beelen, Liliana Melgar Estrada, Sally Chambers, Joris J. van Zundert

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


The interpretation of “code” and its role in the digital humanities has been a topic of debate ever since the first experiments in “humanities computing” in the late 1950s. Even some years ago, the question whether humanities students need to know how to code was sincerely provocative. At present digital humanists seem to agree that knowing how to code is relevant, if not essential for digital humanities research. However, there is a lack of agreement on what the community means by “code literacy”, and as a result the efforts to improve code literacy among students and researchers are dispersed. This paper presents the, to our knowledge, largest ever survey on code literacy and related questions in the field. We expound the results and analysis of the first two overarching research questions of the four that the survey aimed to tackle: 1) What are the definitions and interpretations of code literacy across humanities disciplines?; 2) How important is code literacy as part of digital humanities scholarship? We explain what according to the survey answers are the most important ele- ments or dimensions of a definition of "code literacy". Among these are the different levels of competence and the varying importance of code literacy across disciplines. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of these findings, opening up questions for the debate on academic curricula regarding digital humanities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11
Number of pages38
JournalDH Benelux Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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