6.0357 Humanities Computing: Merely a Hobby? (1/32)

Tue, 17 Nov 1992 18:44:40 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0357. Tuesday, 17 Nov 1992.

Date: Sun, 15 Nov 92 14:52:22 EST
From: Stephen Clausing <SCLAUS@YALEVM>
Subject: humanities computing: a gentleman's sport?

Is humanities computing merely a hobby for tenured faculty? I am beginning to
think so. I have just finished looking through the October MLA job list along
with the computer science equivalent. As in past years, I see no jobs relating
to humanities computing. At best, there are 1 or 2 positions where experience
in computer aided instruction might be helpful. But there are countless
positions for everything else. Similarly, in computer science, we have the
usual job advertisements for network specialists, software engineers, and theory
people. This can't go on if we are to have quality people doing quality work.
I suspect my own experience is typical. I started out as a German professor
here at Yale and then was, in effect, booted out when I consorted with the CS
people. Now I am a full-time lecturer in computer science, teaching a
curriculum of humanities computing along with regular CS courses. I love what I
am doing. I have CS students who are interested in writing CAI, and I have
humanities students who are interested in computer science for the first time.
But I am also painfully aware of the fact that I have this job because I MADE
this job, and it took 5 years of continuous drudge-work and diplomacy to get to
this point. Now Yale is considering a severe budget cut. Whole departments are
rumored to be slaughtered, e.g. linguistics, others cut in half, such as
engineering, and every department has already been given a preliminary "hit"
list of junior faculty positions to be lost in the next 5 years. Where does
this leave me? I have no idea. But I can tell you this: if humanities
computing is to be more than a gentleman's sport, somebody has got to start
creating jobs for this field. How many more Goethe specialists do we need?
Give it a rest. Hire someone who will rock the status quo. Hire me. For that
matter, hire half of Yale. We are all eager to go. 20 years from now there
will be departments of humanities computing. No doubt someone will write a
doctoral thesis on the history of the field and my name will appear in a
footnote: "wrote some interesting early works, 'German Tutor', 'MacConcordance',
'Etaoin Shrdlu', and then disappeared from the field". I don't want to be a
footnote. I want to be the head of the department. Make a job in humanities
computing this year. Talk to your dean. Hire someone else if you please, but do