9.131 [9.126] humanities and computing

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Wed, 30 Aug 1995 13:35:50 -0400 (EDT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 131.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)

[The following is a second mailing of Humanist 9.126]

[1] From: tomdill@womenscol.stephens.edu (28)
Subject: Re: 9.118 the humanities & computing
[2] From: Willard McCarty <mccarty@phoenix.princeton.edu> (24)
Subject: disciplinary boundaries

From: tomdill@womenscol.stephens.edu
To: mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU
Date: Sun, 27 Aug 1995 21:40:26 -0500
Subject: Re: 9.118 the humanities & computing

Richard Heinzkill's response to the jacket copy on David Marc's
*Bonfire of the Humanities* is understandable, but limited by his
failure to go inside the book. Just as Terry Castle has suffered
on other lists for the sensational headline attached to her
review of a book on Jane Austen, so Marc's book could be unfairly
categorized as another bit of multimedia triumphalism (of the
Negroponte kind), when in fact it offers some serious challenges
to humanists, but in a thoughtful (not exactly a "mad as hell")
way. It is true that the book is somewhat incoherent and parts look
as though they were swept into it for lack of a better disposal place,
but his suggestion that humanists are at fault for taking any of
several either self-blinding or self-serving attitudes toward
popular electronic culture in general and television in particular
is certainly accurate and his explanation of why these attitudes
doom humanists not simply to irrelevance but to failure in their
own espoused fields of interest is supported with convincing
evidence and arguments. It is worth looking at this book in
conjunction with Mark Slouka's *War of the Worlds: Cyberspace and
the High-Tech Assault on Reality* since both, whatever their flaws,
look at the conditions that directly affect our students and our
ability to continue to teach the materials and values we espouse.
These are neither vandals nor luddites, but thoughtful analysts
of the present situation. These are both titles that should be
of interest to those of us exploring the uses of computing in the
teaching of the humanities, since they suggest that we may be
ignoring inherent contradictions in our projects for lack of an
adequate theoretical understanding of the relationships betwen
electronic media and human thought.
Tom Dillingham tomdill@womenscol.stephens.edu

From: Willard McCarty <mccarty@phoenix.princeton.edu>
To: mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU
Date: Mon, 28 Aug 1995 18:09:37 -0400
Subject: disciplinary boundaries

A query that occurred a short time ago, in Humanist 9.115, has been greeted
with silence, doubtless the result of Augustian doldrums, but undeserved
nevertheless. Allow me to revive it.

The query was from Maris Roze of the DeVRY Institutes. "I'd be interested",
Roze wrote, "in some views on the distinction between the humanities and the
social sciences as these relate to courses in history and to
"interdisciplinary" offerings in the area known as Science, Technology, and
Society. How would we be shaping history and STS courses, for example, if
we wanted them to be either humanities or social science offerings?"

We must have at least a few dozen social scientists on Humanist, perhaps
more. In any case, let me ask a simple question or two. How do we define the
boundary between the humanities and the social sciences other than in
institutional terms? Is there, as seems to me, a very large overlap between
these two discipline groups? (Archaeology and anthropology, for example, are
sometimes found in one group, sometimes in another; History is usually
considered one of the humanities but has strong affinities to the social
sciences.) What are the opportunities for collaborative courses, such as the
one Roze mentions?

>From the perspective of humanities computing, which I consider to be
primarily methodological, there is much common ground.