10.0671 withering away?

WILLARD MCCARTY (willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Thu, 6 Feb 1997 22:34:35 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 10, No. 671.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Willard McCarty <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk> (23)
Subject: withering away of the state?

Thoughts stimulated by Patricia Galloway's recent note.

With all due respect to Don Ross, elder (but not old) statesman of the
field, it seems to me highly unlikely that humanities computing will
disappear after the older disciplines have assimilated computing into the
core of what they do. This is close to the argument, advanced at Oxford (as
I recall) when English was first being pushed as a discipline: since
everyone reads that stuff anyhow, why should we grant a degree for reading
English literature? Those who teach English, like those who teach humanities
computing, know better -- unless of course they get tired and
overburdened, as I very much hope my friend Lou Burnard isn't.

"He or she who is sick of London is sick of life." Less eliptically, since
all disciplines are centres from which to study all knowledge, humanities
computing is apt to seem nothing more to a specialist in, say, French
linguistics than the set of computing techniques which he or she happens to
know about. Philosophy and history are examples of disciplines that devour
everything and from which nothing seems much more than raw material for
their particular concerns. No objection, but to understand humanities
computing one has to make it one's centre. I suppose this could be done
momentarily, in the imagination, but a professional commitment is
certainly a powerful stimulus.



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Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
voice: +44 (0)171 873 2784 fax: +44 (0)171 873 5801
e-mail: Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk