Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 244.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2001 06:51:07 +0100
From: Willard McCarty <email@example.com>
Subject: writings on imagination?
This is a request for suggestions and comments on a research problem I am
wrestling with at the moment -- and probably will continue wrestling with
until a Jacob's angel administers the touch (and we all know where that
The problem is this: what are the powers of mind we most need in humanities
computing and how do we learn to cultivate them? I am convinced, for
reasons I cannot articulate at the moment to my complete satisfaction, that
this question is really about the imagination and how it works. Indeed, I
am enough convinced of this that I am now reading around in the subject of
the imagination, attempting to locate its disciplinary homes, grasp what
their concerns and contributions are and get what I can from them.
So, I would greatly appreciate pointers to writings in *any* disipline on
the subject of the imagination. I'm already aware of and mostly have read
Denis Donoghue, The Sovereign Ghost: Studies in the Imagination
Northrop Frye, The Educated Imagination
Jerome McGann, "Imagining what you don't know" (online)
Charles Ravenscroft, "Mental Imagery, Philosophical Issues About", article
forthcoming in the Encyclopedia of Cognitive Science (online);
"Imagination", Dictionary of Philosophy of Mind (online)
Lisa Samuels, "Introduction" to Poetry and the Problem of Beauty (online)
A (great) number of other books & articles touch on the subject, e.g. works
in historiography and ethnography, such as in ethnography the writings of
Greg Dening and Clifford Geertz; in historiography, R.G. Collingwood's The
Idea of History and M.I. Finley's The Use and Abuse of History, and to some
degree Richard Evans' In Defense of History; in philosophy Peter Winch's
The Idea of a Social Science. I'm interested in those sorts of things as well.
What I do not have and would greatly love to find are writings in computer
science by anyone close enough to the action to understand how people think
about human situations in terms of software BUT who are capable of stepping
far enough away to be able to articulate these workings of mind. Edsger
Dijkstra, for example, did this from time to time, in little bits and
pieces, I know; please tell me about any you particularly value.
In a few days I'll be giving a short paper on the topic, "Computing on the
'rough ground' of the humanities", which is online at
<http://ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/essays/rough/> and is *very* rough indeed.
This may do a somewhat better job of clarifying my problem (yes, I mean
this in all senses :-) than the above. Constructive comments are more than
most welcome, they are the point of my inchoate speaking-out at such an
early stage -- one of the things this medium is good for.
Dr Willard McCarty / Senior Lecturer /
Centre for Computing in the Humanities / King's College London /
Strand / London WC2R 2LS / U.K. /
+44 (0)20 7848-2784 / ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/
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