[Humanist] 24.445 digital humanities and the cuts

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Oct 29 05:54:28 CEST 2010


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 445.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (43)
        Subject: preaching to the choir

  [2]   From:    D.Allington <d.allington at open.ac.uk>                      (38)
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 24.440 digital humanities and the cuts

  [3]   From:    Giovanna Costantini <costantini.giovanna.l at gmail.com>      (2)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.427 digital humanities and the cuts

  [4]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (43)
        Subject: British Academy on the public value of the humanities and
                social sciences

  [5]   From:    Alan Corre <corre at uwm.edu>                                 (2)
        Subject: digital humanities and the cuts


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 28 Oct 2010 07:27:48 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: preaching to the choir

A good friend of mine in Toronto, a senior and very distinguished 
academic not born into privilege, remarked to me when I mentioned the 
Nussbaum lecture here in London,

> I know of the book but haven't seen it. It will be a good lecture,
> but no doubt preaching to the choir. Who will find the voice to
> convince the majority? Or will progress revert to being a cause for
> the elite?

I fear the latter is the only possibility now. But we can try to find 
that voice. It won't be the voice of a John Stuart Mill, whose appeal 
was of his time. As John Hartley's Digital Literacies eloquently argues, 
the voice which would be heard cannot appeal to a privileged minority 
whom the majority respect, because that respect is gone. Now, on the 
other side of Raymond Williams' "Culture is ordinary", what he called 
the Cambridge tea-shop voice merely seems silly. The world depicted by 
Bertrand Russell in "Some Cambridge Dons of the Nineties" (Portraits 
from Memory, 1956) is no more. Lord Russell (who rebelled against his 
aristocratic origins) wrote, 66 years after the event, about some very 
odd people indeed,

> The result was partly good, partly bad. Very good men flourished, and
> so did some who were not so good. Incompetence, oddity and even
> insanity were tolerated, but so was real merit. In spite of some
> lunacy and some laziness, Cambridge was a good place, where
> independence of mind could exist undeterred.

Yes, by "men" he meant the male sex only -- a high price to pay, but not 
the only one.

How we achieve independence of mind (and, as John Levin suggested in 
Humanist 24.440 as a real question) *where* we achieve it, is our 
concern. The reality of trying to do intellectual work outside the 
bounds of the university is, however, far harsher than the romantic 
fantasy of doing that. One needs time and quiet. Oxbridge will take care 
of itself (I hope). Shall we look to the universities that have 
deliberately addressed themselves to the market-forced underprivileged? 
Shall we take Williams seriously in the hope of capturing and nurturing 
his kind?

Yours,
WM

-- 
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,
www.uws.edu.au/centre_for_cultural_research/ccr/people/researchers;
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 28 Oct 2010 11:58:02 +0100
        From: D.Allington <d.allington at open.ac.uk>
        Subject: RE: [Humanist] 24.440 digital humanities and the cuts
        In-Reply-To: <20101028054542.EE476A2048 at woodward.joyent.us>

Thank you to John Levin for his deeply moving email.

The truth is that even before these recent developments, the employment prospects of freshly-qualified PhDs were already pretty bleak in the humanities. PhD students are the only people in academia who are expected to pursue knowledge for its own sake; the rest of us are expected to pursue knowledge for the sake of funding. Because early career researchers attract little funding, they are worth corresponding little to university administrators, whose agendas those of us with jobs have all too frequently bought into.

What we now face in British universities is the prospect that established academics may find themselves in precisely the same position as their recently-graduated supervisees. Perhaps this is the moment when the university will find its soul again - if not, we may have to do what John suggests and pursue scholarship elsewhere, because the opportunity to do otherwise is no longer guaranteed.

I hope that plenty of us will be able to make it to the Fund Our Future demonstration on 10 November.

All best wishes

Daniel

Dr Daniel Allington
Lecturer in English Language Studies and Applied Linguistics
Centre for Language and Communication
The Open University
01908 332 914
http://open.academia.edu/DanielAllington

John Levin wrote:

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

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.

...

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.

...

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.

-- 
The Open University is incorporated by Royal Charter (RC 000391), an exempt charity in England & Wales and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 038302).



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 28 Oct 2010 08:02:14 -0400
        From: Giovanna Costantini <costantini.giovanna.l at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.427 digital humanities and the cuts
        In-Reply-To: <20101028054542.EE476A2048 at woodward.joyent.us>

To Andrew Prescott's and Andrew Pink's excellent commentary I would add that in a secular, culturally diverse society in which science and religion have polarized to the point of adversarial confrontation and extremism, what mediates ethical behavior if not a plural humanistic education?  Legislation (within the province of government) is insufficient in humanitarian formation.  While it may honor chivalry and courage, it cannot inculcate compassion and caritas, nor transcend the limits of reason in pursuit of idealism and moral judgement.

Giovanna Costantini 


--[4]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 28 Oct 2010 14:07:35 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: British Academy on the public value of the humanities and social sciences
        In-Reply-To: <20101028054542.EE476A2048 at woodward.joyent.us>


On 17 June of this year the British Academy published a booklet, Past,
Present and Future: The Public Value of the Humanities & Social Sciences at
a public event in the House of Commons. This complements other publications
to which links are provided on the Academy page announcing the event (see
www.britac.ac.uk/policy/pastpresentandfuture.cfm).

I have not had time to read through all of what's available here, but a
quick scan of the lot isn't encouraging.

The links to the two publications on the social sciences, published by the
Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), are both broken; a search of the
ESRC site found neither of them.

Two of the four publications on the humanities yield either no mention of
the digital humanities at all (the Academy's "Past, Present and Future") or
oddly incomplete and peripheral references (the Academy's "Punching our
Weight"; the Arts and Humanities Research Council's "That full complement of
riches" and "Leading the world"). The AHRC's "Leading the world", for
example, mentions "incubator units" at several UK locations but neither
Glasgow or London, thus missing the only academic departments; its emphasis
is decidely on stimulating the economy.

The only publication to come close is the AHRC's website, "Pathways to
impact" (www.ahrc.ac.uk/FundedResearch/impact/Pages/default.aspx). It is
piecemeal -- a set of links to individual project descriptions with no
over-arching argument or even summary -- and again oddly incomplete. Work
done in London isn't mentioned as far as I can see.

Is this a defense of the humanities? I'd think that the now unfashionable
concerns of these disciplines would be greatly strengthened and given a
voice audible even to the Science Minister if their digital forms and
expressions were given a critical look. But neither the Academy nor the AHRC
(which has funded much of the work done in London) has done that.

But perhaps this is being a bit unfair. What would the individuals concerned
have read to become better informed? Is it that in a cash-driven rush to
produce deliverables we have failed adequately to reflect and argue the case
for the digital humanities? Or are we simply at too early a stage in the
development of our field for the simple arguments to be possible?

Yours,
WM

--
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,
www.uws.edu.au/centre_for_cultural_research/ccr/people/researchers;
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.




--[5]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Thu, 28 Oct 2010 20:47:01 -0500 (CDT)
        From: Alan Corre <corre at uwm.edu>
        Subject: digital humanities and the cuts
        In-Reply-To: <20101028054542.EE476A2048 at woodward.joyent.us>

And Intute is shutting up shop.

Alan Corré





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