[Humanist] 24.187 community: DH2010

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Jul 12 10:17:47 CEST 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 187.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2010 09:07:48 +0100
        From: Melissa Terras <m.terras at ucl.ac.uk>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.184 community
        In-Reply-To: <20100711151533.5CBE857E95 at woodward.joyent.us>

Dear Willard,

Thank you for your posting - I have been really astounded by feedback to 
my plenary at DH2010.

I just wanted to point out that, for those who weren't there, I've put 
up an approximation of what I hoped to say on the day at



On 11/07/2010 16:15, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
>                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 184.
>           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
>                         www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                  Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>          Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2010 16:09:10 +0100
>          From: Willard McCarty<willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>          Subject: community
> Dear colleagues,
> I don't know how much of the following will make sense to anyone other
> than the 420+ attendees of Digital Humanities 2010, but I think it is
> important to record the fleeting sense of community that one can only
> get while being physically present in the midst of one -- in this case
> for all too brief a time. And now it is only remembered.
> Communities, Benedict Anderson and others have taught us, are imagined.
> They don't just happen. But once imagined they can in turn support,
> nurture and extend our imaginings in all sorts of ways, even for those
> who work mostly alone. There is, of course, the strong Gemütlichkeit of
> a pleasant gathering over a fine meal, with friends, music, wine and so
> on, in an architecturally and otherwise also culturally fascinating
> Great Hall, as was for the conference banquet last night. But, I think,
> that's not all there is to it. After all the years the conferences of
> this community of researcher-practitioners have been going on, we still
> come close to the essentials of what I imagined long ago the academic
> life would be -- the vision that fuelled my own long-wandering path and,
> I'd assume, that of many others. Is this the experience of academics in
> other fields and of those in other professions?
> It's remarkable further because all around us economic gloom is
> thickening and lesser sorts of people are reacting badly, as they always
> do. In the universally acclaimed keynote address which ended the formal
> academic programme of DH2010, Melissa Terras mentioned then rhetorically
> turned aside from the threat several times, making its seriousness plain
> to everyone. But at the same time she delivered the message with an
> energy and infectious enthusiasm that really said it all: we are
> intelligently in love with a wonderful field of research and practice --
> despite everything, including our own imperfections.
> What I'm saying is that we have here an opportunity to reflect on how an
> important state of affairs, our own, has come about and that it is
> urgent we do so because it is not something independent of us that will
> automatically propagate into the future. It could vanish when the old
> guard finally shuffles off (or dances off), as they are doing,
> particularly if we forget, as we have, what they did. It could vanish by
> our losing sight of what you see only when you stand at the intersection
> of the humanities and computing and not from within any of the
> disciplines themselves. It could be destroyed by self-importance. It
> could, Melissa pointed out, be destroyed because we don't have the wit
> to articulate what exactly the digital humanities is when someone with
> their hands on the budget asks what for, or mistakes something else for it.
> (That last point deserves an aside. Opinions vary, but I think the best
> way for us to communicate what we're for is to ask questions when
> questioned, to draw out what the questioner is interested in and then
> develop a realisation of our field from within his or her own concerns.
> I think it's simply asking too much to expect someone who has never gone
> walkabout in a disciplinary sense to take in a research activity that is
> not bounded by any discipline but has intimate relations with all of them.)
> But back to last night, and the time preceeding it at DH2010. Wonderful,
> memorable, exemplary. Some photos are collected on the conference site
> (dh2010.cch.kcl.ac.uk/), others soon, with a video record of the entire
> event, by means of which you'll be able to see, or vividly recall, much
> that I would like to describe but cannot.
> Next year at Stanford, the year after at Hamburg. Much to ponder and
> discuss meanwhile.
> Yours,
> WM

Melissa M. Terras MA MSc DPhil CLTHE CITP FHEA
Senior Lecturer in Electronic Communication
Department of Information Studies
Henry Morley Building
University College London
Gower Street

Tel: 020-7679-7206 (direct), 020-7679-7204 (dept), 020-7383-0557 (fax)
Email: m.terras at ucl.ac.uk
Web: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/infostudies/melissa-terras/
Blog: http://melissaterras.blogspot.com/

Deputy Director, UCL Centre for Digital Humanities: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/dh/
General Editor, Digital Humanities Quarterly: http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/

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