[Humanist] 22.512 always at the edge

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Feb 10 07:16:22 CET 2009

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 512.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 09 Feb 2009 10:31:24 -0600
        From: John Laudun <jlaudun at mac.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 22.507 why digital humanities

> "FOLKLORE STUDIES, like any other kind of studies, don't just happen.
> Fields of scholarship occur because specific technological and  
> economic
> and institutional resources are available and because specific
> individuals utilize those resources in specific ways. Whatever measure
> of intellectual or academic freedom we enjoy takes place in a grid
> defined by pre-existent theoretical and social models which we  
> accept or
> with which we must contend, with machines that help us deal in  
> specific
> ways with the implications of those models, and with rewards available
> to those of us who use both models and machines in ways that seem
> valuable to the payers of salaries and the givers of grants."
> Bruce Jackson, “Things that from a long way off look like flies”, The
> Journal of American Folklore 98.388 (April-June 1985): 131.

Well, yes. Folklore studies finds itself on the humanistic edge of the  
humanities - human sciences divide. Across the chasm lies cultural  
anthropology. Thus the practitioners of folklore studies are always  
having to assess the ideological and technological landscapes on which  
we find ourselves, always, as it were, having to discover anew how  
best to explain ourselves to others, to defend our place at the edge.  
(That folklore studies should continually have to explain the  
importance of studying the actual words, actions, and creations of  
ordinary human beings -- and that ordinary human beings are capable of  
great intelligence and beauty -- is something to be lamented  
elsewhere.) Bruce Jackson dedicated a good portion of his career to  
studying African American folklore, especially those forms to be found  
in prisons.

John Laudun
Department of English
University of Louisiana – Lafayette
Lafayette, LA 70504-4691
laudun at louisiana.edu
Twitter/Facebook/Flickr: johnlaudun

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