[Humanist] 26.439 intemperance and outcry, but against what?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Oct 31 07:35:36 CET 2012

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 439.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2012 22:11:33 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: intemperance and outcry

The season for intemperate remarks seems to be upon us.

First, upon me: I see from reading further that (in reference to the 
coining of "digital humanities") the historical record, as I rather 
pretentiously called it, *does* have specific people wanting to distance 
themselves from computing support services, with which "humanities 
computing" was thought to be too closely associated. Katherine Hayles 
documents this in her contribution to Understanding Digital Humanities, 
ed. David M. Barry, p. 43. Apologies where needed -- but no retraction 
of the argument against anti-historical constructs.

Second, upon Stephen Marche, in "Literature is not Data: Against Digital 
Humanities", Los Angeles Review of Books, 28 October, 
I won't comment directly on what Marche says, though I do hope someone 
else does. What interests me particularly is the fact of his saying what 
he says. Getting such opposition means a nerve has been touched, an 
anxiety stirred up, a fear evoked -- which to me signifies that 
something rather important is happening. For the historian of the 
present of the digital humanities, the article constitutes highly 
valuable evidence. *Of course*, as he says in the last sentence 
of his article, "Insight remains handmade", i.e. as one might say,
there is no text unless a human reads it, and when he or she does,
no one (self-identical) text. The question is, why would anyone feel so 
strongly driven to insist on the presence of the human reader/
interpreter? What is being threatened?

Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Professor, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics,
University of Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist
(www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/

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