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Humanist Archives: March 17, 2023, 6:01 a.m. Humanist 36.454 - musings: disciplinarity; Detroit

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 454.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
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    [1]    From: Willard McCarty <>
           Subject: is it a discipline? (54)

    [2]    From: <>
           Subject: detroit (6)

        Date: 2023-03-16 09:17:43+00:00
        From: Willard McCarty <>
        Subject: is it a discipline?

Of the many agonisings over whether 'digital humanities' (and before
that 'humanities computing', and before that 'computing in the
humanities', and before that, 'computing and the humanities') is a
discipline, I prefer not to dwell, and recommend that no one else does
any further. However, Umberto Eco, in "Concluding remarks" to the First
Congress of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, held in
Milan in June 1974*, has wisdom on the question of 'is-it-one', which 
he asked on behalf of semiotics, that would be a pity not to know and 
keep somewhere for anxious moments. Thanks to an article by another 
fine scholar, Teresa De Lauretis, "The Shape of the World: Report on 
Structuralism and Semiotics in Italy" (1975), I found my way to Eco's 
remarks and here offer some spirit-lifting snippets:

> Semiotics is formally entitled to take possession of a theoretical
> heritage which has not been borrowed from outside for it was born from
> inside....
> Is this project a utopian one? Certainly it is, if one believes that
> semiotics is an absolutely unified and ‘objective’ discipline...
> Semiotics is a human science and as such tries to give to the world the
> shape that we wish it had....
> I do not know if semiotics is a science. I prefer to consider it a
> scientific attitude, a critical way of looking at the objects of other
> sciences. I am not troubled by the suspicion that my science does not
> have a recognizable and duly registered academic physionomy. We are not
> fishing for departmentalization. Galileo Galilei did not know whether he
> was a mathematician, a physicist, an astronomer, a philosopher. Nor did
> Charles Sanders Peirce....
> Is there a risk? Yes, a big one. To be charged with Imperialism. It
> would be difficult to plead not guilty, if one accepts--as I
> accept--Morris’ definition, according to which “Semiotics is not
> concerned with the study of a particular kind of object, but with
> ordinary objects in so far (and only in so far) as they participate in
> semiosis”....
> But it is not only semiotics which wants to put its nose into
> everything. For a few years everybody has wanted to put his nose into
> the semiotic mysteries.
> Well, gentlemen, you are welcome.
> Provided we are the gate-keepers.

*(pp. 246-51, in the Internet Archive,

Willard McCarty,
Professor emeritus, King's College London;
Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews;  Humanist

        Date: 2023-03-16 16:25:12+00:00
        From: <>
        Subject: detroit

François Lachance, Ph.d.
Life cannot be all told.
It is lived in the telling.

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