10.0606 disciplined training

WILLARD MCCARTY (willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Fri, 17 Jan 1997 21:28:30 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 10, No. 606.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Chad Kearsley <chadk@gibbs.oit.unc.edu> (39)
Subject: Re: 10.0600 disciplined training

This recent discussion of what would and should constitute a curriculum in
humanities computing makes me wonder if we might not be moving too quickly
toward programmatizing training in humanities computing. Shouldn't we be
training humanists first who can then, or along the way, be trained in computing

"R.G. Siemens" <siemens@unixg.ubc.ca> responded earlier in this thread with a
consideration of where today's generation of computing humanists received their
training. In that retrospective, Siemens suggests the following about what such
programs might "shape":

>The ideal computing humanist, in my mind, who might be 'shaped' (if you
>will) by a program such as that suggested earlier by Willard is this: a
>humanist who brings to his or her specific discipline an understanding and
>application of the computing tools which are relevant to it, and an open
>mind to explore others which may be so as well.

This description seems to presume that the prospective computing humanist
already possesses training and expertise in a discipline and brings that
knowledge and perspective to their use of technology. If we offer programs in
humanities computing to students who are just beginning, realistically, to
become experts in their disciplines aren't we running the risk of churning out
excellent cart-builders who have only rudimentary understanding of horseflesh?

I suggest we examine the value of advanced training in humanities computing at
the M.A. or even Ph.D. level largely from my own observations of technologists,
humanists, and that hybrid creature, computing humanists.

This semester I have the good fortune of working with Dr. Joseph Viscomi in a
seminar studying Blake and Hypertext. One of the observations I can make about
Dr. Viscomi's approach to humanities computing is that he is first a
well-trained humanist and scholar who has, as R.G. Siemens suggests, approached
technology to find its connections with his scholarship and not vice versa.
(I'll CC Dr. Viscomi so his ears don't burn in ignorance of the invocation.)

Perhaps the curriculum being suggested by Howard, Kirschenbaum, Giardano,
McCarty and others might be better suited to a post-doctoral program rather than
an M.A. or Ph.D. program. In this way the next generation of computing humanists
will be able to bring to the table the same strong disciplined training that the
current generation appears to have brought.

--chad kearsley

Chad D. Kearsley Dept. of English, UNC-Chapel Hill
chad_kearsley@unc.edu Institute for Academic Technology
www.unc.edu/~chadk/ www.unc.edu/depts/english www.iat.unc.edu/