[Humanist] 24.382 muddled middle

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Oct 4 22:17:23 CEST 2010


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 382.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
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        Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2010 06:44:58 +1000
        From: Carol Wical <c.wical at uq.edu.au>
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 24.377 why the muddled middle?


Hi All,
 
Willard,
You ask:
So I wonder: is the bigger problem a fundamental lack of curiosity about
(brought about by a fear of?) that which escapes the small but safe
conceptual boxes into which we put our interests? 
 
First, I don't think it's a single problem and second I'm not sure it's a problem. Some folk will always fall under the old dogs new tricks rule. 
 
Also, it seems to me that many scholars I have heard speak have been brought up in a specialist tradition. Thinking inside the box was the way forward, career-wise. I have been told by more than one mentor to narrow my interest. Luckily for me I'm stubborn and not ambitious in a linear way. 
 
I think you are right in saying that fear is a factor. Fear forms a strong, opaque boundary. But I think it isn't just fear of computing. I think many feel they cannot gamble with their career. Also, I'm sad to say, I think the great underlying fear is that technology will 'prove' humanist pursuits nonsensical. Whether this is due to the loud posturing of the science Vikings as a result of the recent great right turn in the West or the proliferation of the Google mentality that conflates 'finding' with 'understanding' or a combination of both I'm not sure. There's a lot of exhaustion out there and change needs courage needs energy.
 
I think it is worth accepting that there is a section of our cohort who cannot move in the DH direction. Others will without realising it and the younger generation will grow up doing it. I'm thinking making a small team of rsearchers available who can 'digitally enhance' the publications and presentations of others as well as produce their own may be the way to go - an evolution rather than a revolution as a wise man once said.
 
Just some early morning thoughts from the DH frontier.
 
Carol
 
 
Carol Wical
Project Officer
AustLit - Research Projects and Publications
www.austlit.edu.au 

School of English, Media Studies and Art History
The University of Queensland
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