[Humanist] 24.554 digital stylistics

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Dec 6 07:43:15 CET 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 554.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Rachel Lee <aestiral at gmail.com>                          (133)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.550 a digital stylistics?

  [2]   From:    maurizio lana <m.lana at lett.unipmn.it>                     (44)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.550 a digital stylistics?

        Date: Sun, 5 Dec 2010 09:47:33 -0500
        From: Rachel Lee <aestiral at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.550 a digital stylistics?
        In-Reply-To: <20101204091646.0B19026335 at woodward.joyent.us>

And I thought it was only graduate students who struggled to keep their
arguments in view amidst the weighty scholarly network of citations!

On a more serious note, though, I'm also interested in the implications of a
highly referential/networked style of writing. In the perhaps more informal
context of blogging, the stylistics of hyperlinking seems to have been
worked out (for the most part): we like links that clarify, point to
sources, and lead us to further information. (As Scott Rosenberg observes

In the shifting boundaries of academic writing, though, the relationship
between ourselves and our sources seems less clearly defined. I've noticed
in academic blogging, for example, that some authors still use endnote-style
citations on the bottom of their posts -- and these are just citations, not
links. Although technically listed, these referential links to other
scholarship just don't seem useful in the context of reading online; they
don't facilitate my seeking out other scholarship and I question the
writer's decision to *not* use conventional hyperlinks.

One more quick example: I recently published my first article in an online
journal. My co-author and I drafted in MS word; we used MLA-style citations,
but also occasionally embedded hyperlinks in our text (where it made sense
to do so, as in discussion of relevant websites and online archives). We're
both graduate students, and this being our first foray into academic
publication, we found the whole process strange and exciting. But aside from
our own inexperience, it seems that academic communication is figuring
itself out through these strange hybrids: academic blogs with conventional
footnotes and no hyperlinks, and peer-reviewed online articles with both. As
I write my dissertation, I continually struggle with how explicit my linking
should be; my pages are weighed down with footnotes, information waiting to
be linked meaningfully to (and within?) my text, but for the moment
relegated to the bottom margin.

My two cents,

Rachel Lee

PhD Candidate
Department of English
University of Rochester
rachel.lee at rochester.edu

Blake Archive Project Assistant
The William Blake Archive
 http://www.blakearchive.org/blake/ http://blakearchive.wordpress.com/

On Sat, Dec 4, 2010 at 4:16 AM, Humanist Discussion Group <
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 550.
>         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>        Date: Sat, 04 Dec 2010 09:08:04 +0000
>        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>        Subject: digital stylistics
> The other evening I found myself at a seminar at which a very impressive
> textual resource was presented. This resource was originally put
> together for print by a scholar trained long before the popularity of
> the digital medium would have brought alternatives forcibly to his
> attention. Apart from being deeply impressed by the scholarship it
> represents and makes available, I was struck by its oldfashioned
> qualities, and I made some rather silly remark along those lines. But
> looking further at a typical paragraph of its output, I realised that to
> make it newfashioned would require a complete revision, root and branch,
> which in turn would almost certainly mean that a properly born-digital
> version would never see the light of day. So the choice was clear.
> But thinking about it now, what strikes me is the more general
> phenomenon of change in the stylistics of reference in scholarship. If I
> had written a commentary, say in the 1950s, and had to refer to a
> published work, I might well have written something like this:
> > ... for the inflection of the Latin verbs of motion see Angela Dixon,
> > "Irregular patterns in Latin verbs of motion", Journal of Latin
> > Studies 23.4 (Winter 1944), pp.5-8...
> What would I write now? I'd be thinking about someone who would want to
> find all works written by Dixon and similar sorts of questions, and
> would have to hand mechanisms for linking to a standard bibliographic
> reference, and so would do something very different.
> More subtle are the effects of wide-ranging digital bibliographic
> resources, bringing to light connections between an argument and others
> in several other disciplines. I find myself always tempted as a result,
> to write in a highly referential style, citing, because I had the
> references to hand, numerous other authors and places
> where one could find parallel or more developed arguments.
> On the one hand this is good, I suppose. My readers can
> rejoice (I have told myself) in the treasure-trove of references,
> speeding from my argument into the network of scholarship I have
> uncovered. On the other hand they leave my argument quickly behind.
> Indeed, I am implicitly urging them to do so. Let's say I had
> something important to argue and did it well; indeed, let's say I
> had something unique to contribute. Would my highly referential style be
> the best way to write?
> Or let us say that I am replying in a more conversational mode, as on
> Humanist, to someone else's questions. How easily I might fall into an
> even unintended dismissal of my interlocutor's argument by piling on the
> references, so easily dredged up, saying in effect, "you silly, this
> topic has been addressed numerous times, e.g. in X, Y, Z, W....". Let's
> say that my interlocutor's intention had been to reconsider that topic.
> All my helpful references would do the opposite of
> what I had intended. Or let us say that I was annoyed by the
> question he or she had raised. It would be far easier than it ever
> has been to bury that question in a welter of distractions.
> My point? It is that the stylistics of digital scholarship is a new
> ball-game, demanding attention to how we write.
> Comments?
> 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.

        Date: Sun, 05 Dec 2010 22:08:33 +0100
        From: maurizio lana <m.lana at lett.unipmn.it>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.550 a digital stylistics?
        In-Reply-To: <20101204091646.0B19026335 at woodward.joyent.us>

my point of view (particularly recalling as i felt after graduating, when i
read scientific contributions to the matters i was studying) is that it has
always been as you, willard, are describing: only, when we were all 'paper
bound', it required much more time and much more (preliminar) labour (labour to slowly construct a rich bibliographical archive.


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