Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: April 29, 2021, 7:56 a.m. Humanist 34.350 - where from here

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 350.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
                Submit to:

    [1]    From: <>
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.348: where from here? (51)

    [2]    From: Alan Liu <>
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.348: where from here? (73)

        Date: 2021-04-28 20:28:30+00:00
        From: <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.348: where from here?


In 20 years fountain pens will be given as swag at Digital Humanities & Arts

Of course said swag will come in the form of instructions for 3D printing.

Note: the Humanities will be close to the Arts via learning through making;
curation and creation will be close cousins.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
François Lachance
Wannabe Professor of Theoretical and Applied Rhetoric

to think is often to sort, to store and to shuffle: humble, embodied tasks

> On Apr 28, 2021, at 1:36 AM, Humanist <> wrote:
>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 348.
>        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
>                               Hosted by DH-Cologne
>                Submit to:
>        Date: 2021-04-28 05:33:46+00:00
>        From: Willard McCarty <>
>        Subject: envisioning the future
> Dear colleagues,
> I'd like to know where such well-informed people as ourselves would like
> digital humanities (as an academic discipline) to be in, say, 20 years'
> time. So I invite as many as care to reply to my constant question,
> "where from here?"
> Yours,
> WM
> --
> Willard McCarty,
> Professor emeritus, King's College London;
> Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

        Date: 2021-04-28 06:22:01+00:00
        From: Alan Liu <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.348: where from here?

Dear Willard,

Here are some thoughts that have been on my mind that intersect with your
theme.  --Best, Alan

In twenty years’ time — which on the clock of professional change is about
three or four graduate-student cohorts — I would like to see the digital
humanities transition from the role of a newcomer in the humanities
concerned with its disciplinary emergence and methods to being one of the
key partners of the humanities and the “liberal arts” at large in
contributing to contemporary data-driven and -governed society.

At the leverage point of higher-education training for tomorrow’s
data-hungry generations and their governors, that especially means asking
digital humanists to lead the humanities in thinking about how the ever
more socially impactful field of “data science” is being conceptualized and
institutionalized in universities as what amounts to a new pan-discipline —
one that in principle touches every other discipline's materials, themes,
and methods. Especially when conceived to include an integral relation with
applied “domain emphases” in the humanities, arts, and social sciences,
data science thus competes (at least _*in potentia_*) with the older
omni-disciplinary notion of the “liberal arts” as they evolved from
classical and medieval times. How data science initiatives and their
curricula are now being structured to intersect with standing liberal-arts
institutional structures is a fascinating issue in itself (in such contexts
as the history of STEM and the humanities, and critical university
studies). But it is in the context of society at large, whose booming
demand for data scientists to manage the data informing so many major
economic, social, political, and cultural issues today — e.g., any of the
top issues of the last year in the U.S., ranging from the pandemic to
elections to immigration policy to the statistics of policing or
imprisoning of different races — that is the crucial matter. The way our
universities and colleges train tomorrow’s data scientists, as well as the
way higher education trains students in every other field to be aware of
the evolving importance of data science, is of fundamental national and
world interest. That is because higher education is the pressure point for
enabling tomorrow’s ethical data science. The possibility for *good* data
science will rest on recovering for future data scientists the full meaning
of the word “science” as it originated in classical times as the name of
“knowledge.” Data science that is knowledge in this capacious sense will
need to partner with, and internalize, the liberal arts. In doing so, it
will need to create programs that hybridize the purpose of “applied
knowledge” serving outward-directed goals (one of the rationales of the
“domain emphases” typical of many data science majors now) and the
different, but not necessarily unrelated, aim of enrichening the inner
life, citizenship, and “freedom” of the people themselves who engage in
data science (the traditional so-called “intransitive” aim of the “liberal”
arts as the art of learning how to be a “free” person rather than one bound
to serve someone else’s aim).

Importantly, it is not just the traditional ethos of the liberal arts
descended from Western classical and medieval times that data science must
incorporate. Crucial to good data science will be the “new” liberal arts of
the past half century – as instanced in humanities and social sciences
fields after the 1970s that moved in interdisciplinary, socio-political,
cultural-studies, multiculturalist and anti-racist, and global-studies
directions. Ethical problems of data science at such foundational levels as
archives, corpora, platforms, and algorithms will not be solved without
bringing into data science the “new” liberal arts as the full complement to
today’s stray “ethics course” bolted to the side of a data science major.
So, too, the problem of including more diverse social groups among
tomorrow’s data science workforce will likely be ameliorated only through
some form of partnership between STEM training and liberal arts programs
that engage a wider diversity of races, ethnicities, nations of origin, and
genders among students.

In twenty years, the digital humanities can be contributors not just to the
humanities (too small an aim, I think) but to society if it takes on the
role of helping the humanities train both producers and consumers of data
for true “science”, meaning full, good knowledge. To start, that means
developing DH courses that are in the mode of “GE” (general education)

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