[Humanist] 26.482 do we have something to say?
Humanist Discussion Group
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Nov 14 08:54:47 CET 2012
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 482.
Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2012 05:47:08 +0000
From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
Subject: all the conversations
In a quiet moment early this morning I happened to pick up and read the
first few pages of a fine book, Alison Winter's Memory: Fragments of a
Modern History (Chicago, 2012). It's grist for a mill I am building.
Those pages not only told me that I had not misspent my book allowance
(self-allowed and unregulated :-) but once again reminded me of the
situation in which we find ourselves as digital humanists. So, grist for
this mill also.
These days it is often said that the digital humanities is the
humanities' salvation. As I've perhaps commented before, I wonder in
each case if the sayer has any idea at all what wonderful work is going
on in these humanities, arm in arm as they are with the sciences, e.g.
of memory. I do understand that institutionally the humanities are in
trouble, but then higher education is in trouble as a whole -- caused by
ignorance of purpose within and without. This ignorance is appalling,
but I wonder whether it is a new phenomenon? More true of some
disciplines than others? I suspect that a history of humanists'
complaints would reveal a continuum of whinging ab ovo.
But what impresses me is simply how much good work is going on, and how
much we have to learn. We in the digital humanities have recently
entered a very large room in which many astonishing conversations are in
progress -- such as about memory. Wouldn't you think, for example, that
while we help to build these cultural memory archives we make ourselves
aware of this work? Stop talking as if (to resort to a N American idiom)
we are endlessly baking apple pies, each tastier than the last? The
question is, do we have anything to say to the people in this room we
have just entered, or are we (to adjust my food metaphor slightly)
merely serving drinks and nibblies, listening in briefly, at best
catching snatches of this or that conversation before quietly moving on?
Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Professor, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics,
University of Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist
More information about the Humanist