[Humanist] 24.440 digital humanities and the cuts

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Oct 28 07:45:42 CEST 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 440.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 27 Oct 2010 14:36:31 +0100
        From: John Levin <john at anterotesis.com>
        Subject: digital humanities and the cuts

Willard McCarty wrote:

         Date: Mon, 25 Oct 2010 05:52:52 +0100
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
         Subject: more than crying wolf
         In-Reply-To: <20101024004225.EDE9697FCE at woodward.joyent.us>

What do the students reading this think? Why have they put their lives
on the line, paid the fees and come to ask us about what I used to call
the life of the mind? (If you're a student reading this, PLEASE RESPOND!)

Two responses to the cuts from students:
Osbornes October 20th cuts: A Personal Assessment
Is Life over as we know it?

Having recently completed an MA in DH at Kings, and currently applying 
for Phd studentships, my feelings are a combination of despair and disgust.

The government (and the previous one. and the one before that, ad 
infinitum) is not only making education instrumental in the most 
reductive sense, but also destroying any space for critical thought, and 
radically restricting the opportunities for the young - and not only the 
poorest - to go to university.

The cuckoos in the nest have been the vice-chancellors, especially those 
of supposed 'superior' universities. Not only have they acquiesced in 
the governments agenda, not only have they forsaken education for 
property development and bilking foreign students, they are also guilty 
of incompetence.

"The short-termism of Vice-Chancellors failed to understand that as soon 
as fees were introduced the university sector would not only lose its 
place in the queue for, but its claim entirely on, the public purse." 
Martin McQuillan, http://bit.ly/arygr3

I fear also that the humanities will not only be diminished 
quantitatively, but also qualitatively. The recent correspondence on the 
industrialization of the digital humanities touched upon this: narrow 
technical concerns dominating over questioning technology. Similarly for 
other fields: When only the rich can afford to study history, then 
history will become about the rich, a succession of kings and queens and 
'great men.' And that's quite convenient for the education secretary's 
demand for a patriotic history telling 'our island story.'

But if the universities abandon intelligence, intelligence will abandon 
them and move elsewhere. I love history, and I love hacking around with 
computers. I'm going to do these two things regardless. I'll find people 
with similar interests, and we'll do it together, outside - and perhaps 
even against - academia.

And finally, although it comes from the US, an incident that embodies 
the pressures students feel. The Marxist Michael Hardt gave a talk on 
Foucault at Yale recently, the Yale Daily News ending its report of it thus:
"Three of four graduate students declined to comment about the talk. Two 
said they could not comment because they did not want to harm their job 

I'll be damned if I want to live in fear like that.
(Bet this email doesn't do my Phd prospects any good.)

John Levin

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