[Humanist] 23.734 we're in the money (as we sleep rough)

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Mar 31 07:38:04 CEST 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 734.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2010 06:36:04 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: Humanities make money

> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: Humanities make money
> Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2010 17:47:38 +0100
> From: Daniel Pitti <dpitti at virginia.edu>
> Many of you may be interested in this article:
> Bottom line shows humanities really do make money:
> http://today.ucla.edu/portal/ut/bottom-line-shows-humanities-really-155771.aspx
> Daniel

Since there's a danger that some of us -- I felt the pull -- will not 
bother to read this, suspecting a message that we are apt to regard as 
obscenely beside the point of what we do, let me quote a couple of 
paragraphs from the end of Robert Watson's piece for the Chronicle of 
Higher Education:

> No sane citizenry measures its public elementary schools by whether
> they pay for themselves immediately and in dollars. We shouldn't have
> to make a balance-sheet argument for the humanities, either, at least
> not until the balance-sheet includes the value, to the student and to
> the state, of expanded powers of personal empathy and cross-cultural
> respect, improved communication through language and other symbolic
> systems, and increased ability to tolerate and interpret complexity,
> contemplate morality, appreciate the many forms of artistic beauty,
> and generate creative, independent thought.
> ...when a university's own leaders begin talking about higher
> education as if it were just another business rather than a great
> collective legacy, by making English professors the scapegoat for
> hundreds of millions of dollars in operating deficit, they need to
> hear some other voices. The assumption that the humanities are a
> vestigial parasite within an otherwise self-sufficient institutional
> body is dangerously wrong.

Some here will, I hope, be interested in Watson's case that the 
humanities in fact support the rest of the university, since there are 
people in power who care only about such facts. And I very much hope 
that when we in humanities computing are valued for being the curious 
cash-cow amidst the other disciplines, constructed as money-losers in 
order to shift an imbalance of power even more to the powerful, we will 
not wriggle in comfortable self-satisfaction but protest.


Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.

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