14.0006 Humanist's birthday

From: Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Date: Tue May 09 2000 - 06:59:00 CUT

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                    Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 6.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

       [1] From: Elisabeth Burr <he229bu@unidui.uni-duisburg.de> (116)
             Subject: Re: 14.0001 HAPPY now we are 13 BIRTHDAY

       [2] From: "Price, Dan" <dprice@tui.edu> (30)
             Subject: Humanist Discussion Group--Reflections

             Date: Tue, 09 May 2000 07:43:51 +0100
             From: Elisabeth Burr <he229bu@unidui.uni-duisburg.de>
             Subject: Re: 14.0001 HAPPY now we are 13 BIRTHDAY

    Dear Willard, dear Humanist,
    this birthday comes just right and above all the proverb
    "Do what you do only out of love." It is sometimes so
    easy to forget this. Apart from fascinating intellectual
    discussions and contributions concerning a field which
    can be very disconcerting because of its fuzziness and
    instability Humanist and you Willard have managed to
    to create and follow a line of discourse which links science,
    intellect and emotions. Do carry on. Happy birthday!

    At 19:54 07.05.00 +0100, you wrote:
    > Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 1.
    > Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
    > <http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/>
    > <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/>
    > Date: Sun, 07 May 2000 19:47:35 +0100
    > From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
    > >
    >Dear Colleagues:
    >Thirteen years ago today Humanist began as an experiment on the strength
    of an
    >inspiration that somehow something good would come of it. Many good things
    >have, for me the most important of them quite unexpectedly. You may not
    >count these yearly editorial ruminations among those good things :-), but I
    >do hope that you, like me, welcome the chance to stop for a moment and
    >think about Humanist in the context of our field(s) of activity and the
    >loosely bound, widely distributed community of people -- some of them of
    >long-standing, some of them new and, alas, some of them gone -- that
    >Humanist has helped to define. None of us has the time to review the past
    >year-in-Humanist, and I trust none is so foolish as to attempt prediction
    >of the one we begin today. I'll certainly do neither. Cook's privilege is
    >to taste the cooking, editor's to say whatever he or she likes. Permit me
    >to combine those roles in a very personal way. I often think that what I do
    >under the rubric of editor is to stir the pot, so here goes.
    >Permit me also, please, to draw on experience without your attributing to
    >the act the qualities of age that may seem inseparable from it. Especially
    >the greybeardedness. That colour and my beard are not unrelated, but the
    >sedentary gravitas and settled authority that greybeards can so easily put
    >on I find personally dead wrong and professionally suicidal. I hope that
    >it's entirely unnecessary to say that the joy of being alive is simply too
    >unsettling to make greybeardedness an attractive mental state, or as my
    >poet Ovid wrote about a not entirely dissimilar situation, "non bene
    >conveniunt nec in una sede morantur / maiestas et amor..." (Met 2.846f). As
    >for our field, it changes too quickly. New vistas -- such as new media
    >studies, now not so new -- open up, and suddenly we need to reconfigure
    >what we think and how we think, publish and teach it. Greybeards are likely
    >to end up, to quote Peter Batke, feeling as if they're sitting in the
    >middle of the road with tire tracks up their back.
    >Perhaps the most valuable thing I can say about the very beginning of
    >Humanist is the autobiographical fact of its originating inspiration. It
    >came to me, suddenly in a meeting of like-minded, more or less unrecognised
    >and quite disgruntled academics 13 years ago, that there was 'something for
    >me' in the effort to bring us together and define what we were doing -- no
    >more, really, than a whiff of something good on the wind. I think the
    >professional analogue to this personal incident and the crucial role of
    >sudden inspiration in my life that it points to is, again, the vital
    >necessity for our being alert. We're not at the bleeding edge of
    >technological developments, thank God, but as new things come over the
    >horizon we have but a short time to see what we might adopt, adapt or take
    >note of for our colleagues in the humanities and for our students.
    >The most valuable thing I can say about the practice of editing Humanist is
    >again to quote the Hebrew proverb, "Do what you do only out of love." If
    >years ago I'd had sight of the future, and I'd seen what good things
    >Humanist would do for me professionally, I might have been irresistibly
    >tempted to go for it out of hope for professional advancement etc., but
    >blessed blindness to the future saved me from being tested and very likely
    >found wanting. By the time it became clear that Humanist would be useful in
    >that way my love for it was too strong to be unseated by those strange
    >gods. In any case, the privilege of being involved through Humanist in the
    >beginnings of humanities computing is very great indeed, and I can only be
    >profoundly grateful.
    >Many are to thank -- some who have helped deliberately, others accidentally
    >and a few who intended a rather different result and taught important
    >lessons thereby. Allow me, however, for the first time to dedicate the
    >moment to Don Fowler, late of Jesus College Oxford, who was just the sort
    >of colleague and friend we need to remind us of why we do this thing and
    >why greybeardedness is not to die for. "Therefore choose life!"
    >Many thanks.
    >- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    >Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London
    >voice: +44 (0)20 7848 2784 fax: +44 (0)20 7848 5081
    ><Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk> <http://ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/>
    >maui gratias agere
    Prof'in Dr. Elisabeth Burr
    Universitaet Bremen

    President of SILFI:

    Gerhard-Mercator-Universitaet Duisburg

    Personal homepage:

    Editor of:

             Date: Tue, 09 May 2000 07:44:24 +0100
             From: "Price, Dan" <dprice@tui.edu>
             Subject: Humanist Discussion Group--Reflections


    Thank you for the Birthday reflection for this discussion group. As you
    have been here "among the longest" I would be curious about more specific
    details along the trail of thirteen years.

    Maybe you could indicate three (or six?) significant turns or developments
    in the discussion group itself,. This would give some perspective as to
    where we have been and the "nature" of the revolution that we are all

    I confess that in a way I am also thinking as I am typing--based on the
    past, is there a future for "Computers in the Humanities?" Will it take
    the shape of degree programs at the undergraduate level, if so, what kind
    of careers will these graduates have, save to do graduate work in the same
    field and so perpetuate the chain again.

    OK I admit. Two different items here. One is Do you have some personal
    highlights among the past thirteen years in terms of the development of the
    discussion group.

    Two is Does reflection on the past thirteen years tell us anything about
    the future of Computers and the Humanities, especially in the university

    Thanks for reading this and I am posting to you personally as it may or may
    not be relevant to the group at large.

    Dan Price, Ph.D.
    Professor, Center for Distance Learning
    The Union Institute (800) 486 3116 ext.222
    440 E McMillan St. (513) 861 6400 ext.222
    Cincinnati OH 45206 FAX 513 861 9026


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