[Humanist] 24.710 two sets of questions

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Feb 14 10:33:53 CET 2011


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 710.
         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>          (41)
        Subject: loss of fire

  [2]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>          (21)
        Subject: a heads-up to the present or to the past?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2011 13:35:47 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: loss of fire


In what I take to be one of the founding documents of cultural studies 
in N America, Henry Giroux, David Shumway, Paul Smith and James 
Sosnoski, "The Need for Cultural Studies: Resisting Intellectuals and 
Oppositional Public Spheres", Dalhousie Review 64 (1984): 472-86, the 
authors address the reasons for the failures of interdisciplinary 
movements as follows:

> Interdisciplinary movements ... have often developed out of the sense
> that the most important issues were being lost in the cracks between
> the rigid boundaries of the disciplines.... The problem is that no
> solid alternatives to disciplinary structure have evolved within the
> academy and, as a result, movements [to establish interdisciplines]
> paradoxically must strive to become disciplines. Thus, while these
> movements often begin with a critical perspective, they retreat from
> radical critique as they become more successful. To the extent that
> such movements resist disciplines, their seriousness is questioned.
> Practitioners are regarded as dilettantes rather than real scholars,
> and their enterprises are written off as mere fads....
>
> It would be a mistake to regard the failure of interdisciplinary
> movements to remain critical enterprises as the result of the
> suppression of political ideas. Because an intellectual's political
> views are posited as irrelevant to the work of disciplines
> themselves, speaking and thinking about political and social
> questions are construed as merely eccentric to the [discipline]. This
> failure to engage historical contexts and social particularities can
> be seen most clearly in the type of pedagogy that traditional
> disciplines institute.

In other words, beause a form of life defined in terms of disciplines 
excludes questioning their contingent boundaries, any movement that sets 
out to challenge these boundaries is doomed either to perish or to 
become part of the problem.

Is this so? Is it so for us? If it seems like it might be, how is it to be avoided?

Yours,
WM
-- 
Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, www.mccarty.org.uk;
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: Mon, 14 Feb 2011 09:27:18 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: a heads-up to the present or to the past?

"When a new freedom comes into being, the kind of thing it leads to 
depends largely on the characters of the people who first enjoy it. And, 
character being a less rigid thing than an already fixed and limiting 
set of traditions, the element of chance in the determining of events 
becomes unusually large.... Thus it follows that any fitting account, 
or, to put it more solemnly, any adequate history [of how this new 
freedom was used] must deal largely with persons and their characters. 
It cannot avoid regulations and other academic events but it would be 
superficial and misleading if it confined itself to them. It must have 
as its topic certain people: by what accidents they became involved... 
what ideas they had, and how they translated them into action."

E. M. W. Tillyard, The Muse Unchained: An intimate account of the 
revolution in English studies at Cambridge (London: Bowes & Bowes, 
1958), pp. 11-12.

-- 
Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, www.mccarty.org.uk;
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.





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