[Humanist] 31.381 a not unexpected nor unjustified rant

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Oct 25 07:24:57 CEST 2017


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 381.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2017 10:00:20 -0500
        From: Paul Fishwick <metaphorz at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  31.379 a not unexpected nor unjustified rant?
        In-Reply-To: <20171024050937.10761810A at s16382816.onlinehome-server.info>


Dear Willard

 I suspect that the “Digital” in DH creates a novel environment for new form of ontology
and epistemology—often through modeling (our favorite topic). From this perspective,
the digital tools spill over into new forms of making meaning and knowledge within the
Humanities. The critics make some valid points, but I think largely miss the digital
catalysis.

-paul

Paul Fishwick, PhD
Distinguished University Chair of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication
Professor of Computer Science
Director, Creative Automata Laboratory
The University of Texas at Dallas
Arts & Technology
800 West Campbell Road, AT10
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
Home: utdallas.edu/atec/fishwick
Media: medium.com/@metaphorz
Modeling: modelingforeveryone.com
Twitter: @PaulFishwick

> On Oct 24, 2017, at 12:09 AM, Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:
> 
>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 31, No. 379.
>            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
> 
> 
> 
>        Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2017 05:58:15 +0100
>        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: a not unexpected nor unjustified rant
> 
> 
> By now, I expect, readers of the U.S. Chronicle of Higher Education will 
> have seen Timothy Brennan's rant, "The Digital-Humanities Bust" 
> (Chronicle Review for 15 October). Professor Brennan seems rather 
> confused, having lumped together many activities in many areas under the 
> label of digital humanities. But in the highly charged, politically 
> polarized environment in which he writes, a blast of his sort is, I'd 
> guess, to be expected. It would take me too much time that I do not have 
> to counter every exaggeration and error, but I do hope someone with time 
> undertakes that.
> 
> What strikes me are two things. First is how shopworn his questioning of 
> value is. Digital humanities, when it was called 'humanities computing', 
> was questioned, though more quietly and reasonably, even rather 
> mournfully by practitioners and fellow travellers, numerous times from 
> the late 1960s onward; its major activity, text-analysis, was declared a 
> waste of time by one of the leading figures in the field in the early 
> 1990s. The sociologist W. C. Runciman counselled patience in the Times 
> Literary Supplement series "Thinking by Numbers" in 1971, saying that we 
> might have to wait 300 years before the value of the activity for his 
> discipline would become securely known.
> 
> How long did it take for English literary studies to become accepted as 
> a university discipline after it began at the turn of the 20th Century? 
> I suspect a few decades. But then it did not challenge the academic 
> establishment as much as computing does, I'd suppose.
> 
> The second thing that strikes me is how utterly unsurprising the rant 
> is, given the amount of noise from the bandwagons, the littering of 
> promissory notes that are strewn about with nothing of substance behind 
> them. Promises of salvation and revolution have to be backed with quite 
> serious authority. Where is the understanding that our goal is 
> questioning, not answering? Where are the questions?
> 
> Comments welcome, as always.
> 
> Yours,
> WM
> -- 
> Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor emeritus, Department of
> Digital Humanities, King's College London; Adjunct Professor, Western
> Sydney University and North Carolina State University; Editor,
> Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20)




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