[Humanist] 24.283 designing an academic DH department

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Aug 25 23:44:31 CEST 2010


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 283.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Claire Clivaz <claire.clivaz at unil.ch>                     (46)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.281 designing an academic DH department?

  [2]   From:    amsler at cs.utexas.edu                                      (70)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.281 designing an academic DH department?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2010 10:01:53 +0200
        From: Claire Clivaz <claire.clivaz at unil.ch>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.281 designing an academic DH department?
        In-Reply-To: <20100824212141.AB6E261C24 at woodward.joyent.us>

Dear Willard,

I like this kind of prospective!

Such a department would be not only a dream, but also a necessity, a far as I can see.

If you imagine a dozen of scholars, I think that about 3 of them should be scholars in New Technologies, and 9 in Humanities. I would ask to the three colleagues in New Technologies for the material.

Regarding the 9 scholars in Humanities, the following fields could be represented: Law, Economy, Literature, Philosophy, Antiquity, Sociology, Modern History, Psychology. And may be somebody in Neurobiology for the last job.

I wonder if such a department should welcome all the scholars «in situ», or if it could have a virtual part, with collaborations by skype, aso. I mean, if it is difficult in a first step to convince a University to give 12 jobs at the same time, it would be possible to begin with a 5-6 scholars team «in situ» and 6-7 other scholars, who could ask to their institution to delegate them at 50% for the project and work online with the team «in situ». It is of course better to have all scholars «physically» present at the same place, but I try to find a realistic way to begin something.

Here in Lausanne, we experiment since a few weeks a very small and informal «digital humanities department» with 4 scholars, with exchanges and draft of projects: Modern History, French Literature, Antiquity and New Technologies. Nice.

Yours Claire Clivaz

Le 24 août 2010 à 23:21, Humanist Discussion Group a écrit :

> 
>                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 281.
>       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>                           www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> 
> 
> Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 11:45:54 +1000
> From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
> Subject: designing an academic DH department?
> 
> A speculative question: ideally, in the best of possible worlds, what sort
> of human and non-human resources would make for a healthy digital humanities
> academic department meant to serve the research interests of one to two
> dozen productive scholars at any one time? What sort of people at what level
> and kind of appointment (professorial and otherwise), what equipment (hard
> and soft), what other facilities? Broad-brushingly but realistically? What
> are we now collectively dreaming of that we could actually have if we had
> the will and the money?
> 
> Yours,
> WM
> 
> --
> Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
> King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
> Professor, Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney,
> www.uws.edu.au/centre_for_cultural_research/ccr/people/researchers;
> Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
> Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2010 11:31:00 -0500
        From: amsler at cs.utexas.edu
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.281 designing an academic DH department?
        In-Reply-To: <20100824212141.AB6E261C24 at woodward.joyent.us>

I would see it as involding two clusters of people. The digital  
humanists and the computer technologists / engineers who were employed  
within the digital humanities group as dedicated to that group itself.  
Roughly, I'd see a ratio of 1 computer / engineering professional to 5  
or so digital humanists, although the computer staff would have their  
own hierarchy and there would be senior computer researchers,  
software/hardware support staff, and computer graduate students.

The whole idea would be to create a department involving the two  
groups in a sort of equality such that the computer people could have  
their own discussions, plans, etc. for the advancement of the  
computer's role in developing capabilities in the humanities and the  
digital humanists could have their own agenda for the humanities that  
involved using computer tools. It should be possible for both groups  
to approach the other with ideas about what humanities tasks or  
software/hardware should be worked on/built/acquired.

The dilemma I see in the traditional university environment, where  
you'd have separate computer science/engineering departments and a  
digital humanities department (or group within a humanities school) is  
that you'd wind up with the digital humanities having just computer  
support staff and the computer science/engineering departments having  
the truly creative people. That is, the best minds in computing &  
engineering wouldn't be thinking about digital humanities ideas unless  
for some reason the computer science / engineering departments  
happened to pick up someone with those "outside" interests.

I think it is impossible to predict which group could make a bigger  
advance. There are dozens of technologies which digitally-inclined  
humanists are not aware of, except by chance encounters with these  
technologies. Similarly, there are dozens of areas within the  
humanities that computer scientists / engineers don't know exist, to  
which computer technology / engineering might be applied.



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