[Humanist] 24.511 the humanities

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Nov 23 07:41:25 CET 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 511.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (32)
        Subject: appeal of the humanities

  [2]   From:    Romuald I Lakowski <lakowskir at yahoo.com>                  (11)
        Subject: Humanities cuts

        Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2010 09:26:50 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: appeal of the humanities

Some here will know Studs Terkel's book of oral history, Working: People 
Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do 
(1972) -- a collection of over 100 interviews with ordinary people. I 
find these quite moving. They attest, I think, to a common humanity to 
which the humanities might, and perhaps sometimes do, appeal. The appeal 
is a hard-sell, true enough -- these people are a long way from the 
crowd we usually address. But at the barest minimum their stories serve 
as a reminder to us (do they not?) of a ground back to which our 
specialised interests must connect, and be seen to connect. Computing 
in/of/as the humanities included.

As a counterweight to our own thoughts about how important we are as 
Keepers of the Flame, we might also come up with (let us say) a single 
sentence that says what we have to give. Medicine offers better health 
and so longer life. The techno-sciences offer better material 
affordances. The social sciences offer a better, more just society. The 

Yes, these *grossly* oversimplify and ameliorate, but each describes a 
trajectory of desire and intention that (I suspect, I hope) got us 
through the door. Am I hopelessly naive in believing (it is belief) that 
truth and beauty aren't delusional, just *very* hard to reach?

And, again, how about the humanities? It has been demonstrated in the 
laboratory as well as in argument that the great principle of 
reciprocity (I give that you may give) is the best way to play the game.

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,
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.

        Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2010 17:14:04 -0800 (PST)
        From: Romuald I Lakowski <lakowskir at yahoo.com>
        Subject: Humanities cuts

While this has nothing to do with digital humanities as such, in view
of the recent discussion of university cuts, I thought this article
(sent to me courtesy of Andrew Gow at U of Alberta) might be of interest 
to readers of HUMANIST:


While it deals specifically with the cuts at SUNY Albany , it is one 
of the best defenses of the humanities (written ironically by a scientist)
that I have come across.

Romuald Lakowski
lakowskir at yahoo.com


More information about the Humanist mailing list