Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 424.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 08:13:39 +0000
From: clare callaghan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: 13.0420 computing reviews revised
> So my question: within the national academies, scholarly societies, funding
> organisations &al. is a solution in progress, however haphazardly? Will
> someday soon a URL take us where we want to go today? If the corporate
> scholarly mind is not in fact getting its act together, then perhaps the
> various senior people in a position to start something should?
I don't think there is a solution in progress because I don't think there
is widespread institutional support for humanities computing, or even
widespread institutional recognition that it exists. Individual scholars
are finding each other and developing principles as they go. Until
humanities computing is accepted as integral to researching, publishing,
and teaching, the academic trinity, individuals will make their ways as
best they can. This list and its discussions attribute to that.
Helpful individuals do exist, working (in my experience) at UVa, Penn,
Brown, UCSB, UT-Austin, or U-Baltimore, but as for a recognized,
institutionalized approach? Not at all, with the exception of
Austin's computing concentration within its English department and the
planned master's at Virginia. I wish something were established now,
because I am trying to move into humanities computing. Having
some established protocols or programs would have helped me significantly
as I thought about my long term professional goals and how best to meet
But really, all that exists are these individuals. They tend to have
studied a traditional discipline, and serendipitously found computing.
They network, and they know each other, and they're all very helpful when
I write and ask how I too can be part of the humanities computing
community. But they're comparatively rare, and they're associated with
highly regarded, highly competitive departments and they have what passes
for academic job security nowadays, thus also having the space and support
in which to innovate.
Humanities computing is sneaking into more typical English departments
from the back, usually through computer-mediated first-year composition.
And those kinds of classes are the most likely to be put off on
adjuncts or instructors, not taken by the full time, tenure-eligible
professors. Institutionally, this says computing is not considered part
of the "serious" side of academia. Rather, it's something to use to
placate the lowest people in the department, the ones least likely to have
any sway over the department's policies or priorities, or to have the time
to dedicate to such an international effort as you propose.
Without such an effort as you mention, humanities computing seems to me to
be doomed to this "novelty" status. And that, in turn, would keep
marginalized those people genuinely interested in the field, and
even further restrict institutionalized academic powers to those working
"traditionally," however outmoded such traditions might be. In time, a
schism would arise among technical skills certifying schools, research
institutions, and the few remaining liberal arts colleges.
Very truly yours,
University of Baltimore
Loyola College in Maryland
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
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