[Humanist] 29.463 how to structure an article

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Nov 9 07:51:43 CET 2015


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 463.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Sun, 8 Nov 2015 11:37:45 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: resistance and process


In light of responses on a genre or genres for digital humanities, and 
indeed the importance of what is being recorded in the notes on which 
the writing may depend, the following quotation from James Clerk 
Maxwell, in a letter to R. B. Litchfield on 5 March 1858, may be of 
considerable interest:

> The chief philosophical value of physics is that it gives the mind
> something distinct to lay hold of, which, if you don't, Nature at
> once tells you you are wrong. Now, every stage of this conquest of
> truth leaves a more or less presentable trace on the memory, so that
> materials are furnished here more than anywhere else for the
> investigation of the great question, ''How does Knowledge come?"

With apologies to Maxwell allow me to suggest, given our disciplinary 
and historical contexts, the following revision:

> The chief philosophical value of digital humanities is that it gives
> the mind something distinct to lay hold of, which, if you don't, the
> object of study at once tells you you need to think again. Now, every 
> stage of this research leaves a more or less presentable trace on 
> the memory, so that if written down materials are furnished here 
> more than anywhere else for the investigation of the question, 
> "What did I do to get this result?"

It's worth asking, however, what sort of an appeal both of these 
versions have and how that appeal meshes with the interpretative 
disciplines. If in the kind of study you're doing there are right answers, 
then clearly having a check on what you say before you say it is very 
good. But if there are no such right answers? In the original version 
Maxwell soars up to his great question, "How does Knowledge 
come?" It is a great question, but in rephrasing his words, the word 
"Knowledge" made me distinctly uncomfortable. If actions that 
can be formulated (otherwise known as method) define "Knowledge",
then what happens to what we somehow know but cannot formulate? 
What happens to the humanities? Is there peril in our focus on 
methodology?  

Comments?

Yours,
WM

-- 
Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
Group, University of Western Sydney




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