[Humanist] 27.336 on doing something in an unfavourable world

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Sep 13 09:46:43 CEST 2013

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 336.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 12 Sep 2013 11:35:02 +0100
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: on giving up

Pascal Junod, "a bilingual blog about cryptography, information 
security, science, geekness and others", has published a letter of 
resignation from a doctoral student at the École Polytechnique Fédérale 
de Lausanne that, I think, is worth our attention. See 
for the full letter.

Th author, whose name has been withheld by the contributor to the blog, 
lists the following frustrations that have proven fatal to pursuit of 
the degree. These are:

(1) Academia: It's Not Science, It's Business
(2) Academia: Work Hard, Young Padawan, So That One Day You Too May Manage!
(3) Academia: The Backwards Mentality
(4) Academia: Where Originality Will Hurt You
(5) Academia: The Black Hole of Bandwagon Research
(6) Academia: Statistics Galore!
(7) Academia: The Violent Land of Giant Egos
(8) Academia: The Greatest Trick It Ever Pulled was Convincing the World 
That It was Necessary

It's not difficult to recognize manifestations of a world-wide cultural 
disease, in some of these points more, in some less for digital 
humanities. It's easy, because it takes no critical thought, either to 
agree wholeheartedly with the above or to dismiss the criticisms. Taking 
ownership of the problems which have led to this list is, I think, the 
challenge we might try to live up to. Were I this student's supervisor 
I'd be talking about disciplines as starting-points, love of the subject 
as the only reason for doing a PhD and a critical understanding of the 
pernicious blather of our managerialised institutions. There still are 
moments with scholarship and with students, actually many of them, when 
I think that all of what is wrong is made right, is justified. And these 
are inspirations to act, not just to glow in a state of grace while it 

Act how, for digital humanities in particular?

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Research Group in Digital
Humanities, University of Western Sydney

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