13.0358 research in the humanities

From: Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Date: Tue Jan 18 2000 - 22:57:25 CUT

  • Next message: Humanist Discussion Group: "13.0359 liberation through access?"

                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 358.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

       [1] From: cbf@socrates.berkeley.edu (10)
             Subject: Re: 13.0354 research in the humanities

       [2] From: "Fotis Jannidis" <Fotis.Jannidis@lrz.uni- (16)
             Subject: Re: 13.0354 research in the humanities

       [3] From: Wendell Piez <wapiez@mulberrytech.com> (60)
             Subject: Re: 13.0354 research in the humanities

             Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000 22:50:41 +0000
             From: cbf@socrates.berkeley.edu
             Subject: Re: 13.0354 research in the humanities

    Willard's reference to straw men jogged my memory, of an argument that I
    used to have with one of my colleagues in graduate school in illo
    tempore. He was a strong proponent that graduate students needed a better
    knowledge of litrary theory, while I would argue that you had tohave
    something to theorize _about_.

    He used one argument that I found very powerful: If you're going to study
    architecture, you don't really have to know very much about the
    combination of clay and straw that's used to make bricks.

    Charles Faulhaber Department of Spanish UC Berkeley, CA 94720-2590
    (510) 642-3782 FAX (510) 642-7589 cbf@socrates.berkeley.edu

             Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000 22:51:11 +0000
             From: "Fotis Jannidis" <Fotis.Jannidis@lrz.uni-muenchen.de>
             Subject: Re: 13.0354 research in the humanities

    > From: "Norman D. Hinton" <hinton@springnet1.com>
    > Now I 've been in "humanities computing" since the early 1970's, and
    > have been using stat and suchlike tools in my research in historical
    > linguistics for about the same length of time, and Willard knows I've
    been an
    > enthusiastic member of Humanist off and on for a long time--but much of
    what I
    > read here these days just seems irrelevant to anything I do or care about
    > doing.
    > I regard that as a shortcoming of many of the writers to the List, not
    mine (so
    > there).

    Interesting point, maybe you could describe in little more detail what
    shortcomings you
    are talking about?
    Fotis Jannidis

             Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2000 22:51:36 +0000
             From: Wendell Piez <wapiez@mulberrytech.com>
             Subject: Re: 13.0354 research in the humanities

    Willard and HUMANISTS:

    > Why is it, do you suppose, that research methods are often given
    > such a short shrift?

    Because they are the elephant in the living room. I think a strong history
    of Humanities disciplines (in particular, English and Literature programs)
    would have to focus on the evolution of methodologies as a core aspect of
    the generational churn between different schools of theory ever since the
    New Criticism slew the Titans.

    > What is the argument, if any, against a strong methodological
    > component to the postgraduate curriculum?

    Probably not much. In my experience, however, when the argument in favor of
    the methodological component has been made, it has failed in the face of
    the considerable political problem of what that methodology should be, and
    by what rhetoric it should be formalized and prosecuted. Since (to extend
    the well-worn analogy) we are all wearing blindfolds and can't agree on
    what the elephant really is, it is easiest to agree simply to let the
    students figure it out for themselves.

    In the best case, the students may be provided with a survey of
    currently-fashionable approaches (each of which does entail a methodology),
    buffet-style, and then left to gravitate, by personal and political
    affinity, to those faculty who practice something they might learn by a
    kind of *Imitatio* (which is not a bad way to learn, either).

    > What do we gain, if anything, from ignoring the technological
    > vehicle, be it codex or hypertext, as if the artefact were simply
    > words without specific material embodiment?

    One less thing to worry about. (Willard, as you know, to my mind the
    "specific material embodiment of the artefact" is a crucial aspect, though
    not the entirety, of the text as a subject of study -- which is one reason
    I do the work I do, having sought refuge from my own confusions about these
    things, unwilling to take sides.)

    Interestingly, the growing importance of technological literacy in the
    curriculum may, in some places, make room again for this concern.
    Especially since the material embodiment plays such an important role in
    our arguments about media.

    A: "I find a bound volume comforting, stable, intimate."
    B: "Hypertext is so exciting, fluid, responsive."
    A: "But it's so loud, so hurried. A book is much more interactive, so much
    better for listening."
    B: "Dead trees."

    > Subtracting the straw men and women, what sort of a battle do we
    > have here?

    The Cynic would say: Go ye to your Dunciad (Book IV), and ye shall know.
    (That's Alexander Pope's allegory on the Court of Dulness--admittedly not
    something everyone has read.)

    The Romantic would say: the only battle that really matters. How is the
    past, such as we know it (its material and its mentality), an objective
    legacy, a cause-and-effect whose necessities we ignore to our peril? How is
    it a mere projection of our personal and collective psyches, our
    resentments, aspirations, anxieties and hopes? Can it be both? In its
    glass, what do we learn about ourselves, and how?

    Wendell Piez

    Wendell Piez mailto:wapiez@mulberrytech.com
    Mulberry Technologies, Inc. http://www.mulberrytech.com
    17 West Jefferson Street Direct Phone: 301/315-9635
    Suite 207 Phone: 301/315-9631
    Rockville, MD 20850 Fax: 301/315-8285
        Mulberry Technologies: A Consultancy Specializing in SGML and XML

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue Jan 18 2000 - 23:02:41 CUT