[Humanist] 24.303 designing an academic DH department

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Sep 1 02:23:53 CEST 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 303.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 01 Sep 2010 10:21:42 +1000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: designing a digital humanities department

My speculative question about what sort of digital humanities department 
we might want elicited 4 responses. Allow me to summarize these here.

All four of the responses argued for or assumed that the department 
would comprise both technical, academic-related staff and those with 
established academic posts. Bob Amsler, in 24.283, put forth a cogent 
argument for having both groups in the same department: "a department 
involving the two groups in a sort of equality such that the computer 
people could have their own discussions, plans, etc. for the advancement 
of the computer's role in developing capabilities in the humanities and 
the digital humanists could have their own agenda for the humanities 
that involved using computer tools". Claire Chavez, in the same number, 
simply assumed this would be the case, as I would, since it seems now 
quite obviously the way to go. Both Amsler and Darren James Harkness, in 
24.288, specified ratios of technical to non-technical staff. Julianne 
Nyhan, in 24.288, gave a brief but strong argument for a chair whose 
primary role would be to talk to the public outside the academy and to 
those in other disciplines -- a St Paul to the techno-humanistically 

Julianne's imagined chair denotes a role I have had for years, so you 
might expect me to agree with her enthusiastically. But my agreement is 
based more on the experience of doing the job and the conviction that we 
have a vital role to play in the future of the academy and our 
societies, indeed a crucial one. We are *already* out in the public 
sphere, already on the loose in the disciplines, so we had better be 
able to explain what motivates us and why we deserve respect and our 
salaries. In some countries the time has already come when justification 
(a.k.a. a "business case") is required. For the others I would guess 
that it's just around the corner.



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.

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