3.944 support: small may not be beautiful (62)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Thu, 18 Jan 90 21:47:34 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 944. Thursday, 18 Jan 1990.

Date: 17 Jan 90 20:52:54 EST
From: George Aichele <73760.1176@CompuServe.COM>
Subject: computers and humanities (again)

I have been receiving the HUMANIST e-mailings for about two
months now, with great interest. One of the more fascinating
themes has been the question of support for computer-assisted
research and publication in the humanities, in relation to other
questions of academic politics, the future of the humanities,
prospects for electronic publication, and even, recently, the
civil service!

I note (from the membership list which I was sent when I joined
HUMANIST) than the vast majority of members are affiliated with
large state or wealthy private universities. Much of the
discussion in HUMANIST supposes a reader at such a school,
where funding for research and publication (computer-assisted or
not) is readily available--at least compared to the sort of
place where I work. I do not object to this emphasis, but I
would like to call attention to the rather different problems
faced by some computing humanities scholars (even if there's not
many of us on HUMANIST).

The goal of this posting is neither to win your pity, nor to
fill you with gratitude for your good fortune. But... I work at
one of those places where we're all supposed to be "dedicated to
the liberal arts tradition" or some such thing--in short we're
supposed to care more about teaching than we do about salaries,
teaching loads, or working conditions. Along with no "publish
or perish" comes no support for research or publication. Our
entire faculty is probably smaller than some of your
departments. This gives each individual a much larger role in
the workings of the whole. However, our endowment is laughable.
Budgeting and planning is a day-by-day, hand-to-mouth affair,
and the administration is terrified at the thought of raising
tuition. The college uses a beat-up old mainframe which (so I'm
told) does not have the capacity for a BITNET connection. Unlike
nearly all of you, I pay for my HUMANIST access by the minute,
via the INTERNET gateway on Compuserve, which I call on my
computer at home. All my computer costs are paid out of my own
pocket--and at a salary roughly 2/3 that of my state university
counterparts (according to the AAUP). (If my wife didn't work,
I might have to get a real job!)

There's no particular point to these ramblings, except to remind
you that the "Big State U." model is rather foreign to some of
us--at least in relation to our present situations. And, of
course, I haven't addressed the situation of the "independent
scholar," who may even be looking with some longing at my job!

George Aichele
Adrian College