16.541 postdocs of respect

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Sun Mar 09 2003 - 04:54:49 EST

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 16, No. 541.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                         Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

       [1] From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance) (44)
             Subject: respect and tenure

       [2] From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk> (24)
             Subject: professionalization and its cost

             Date: Sun, 09 Mar 2003 09:46:40 +0000
             From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
             Subject: respect and tenure

    Willard & Clifford

    Is there also a measure of success that counts people who have come into
    contact with the field of humanities computing and are employed (job wise)
    outside the academy and who through some sense of avocation continue to
    contribute to the intellectual ferment (one can think of several
    contributors to the TEI discussion list who are employed outside the
    academy)? And then the numbers could be compared to traditional
    institutional structures such as national literature departments and
    various learned societies connected with their pursuits and determine just
    who is making those connections with a wider intellectual community (and
    how well).

    To press the comparison into a historical mold: there was a time where
    learned monks would make cheese and sell herbs while the universities
    shunned all contact with commerce or the people. There are other ways of
    mapping the spaces of exchange than the by now classic cathedral-bazar

    Keep tooting those horns. It is a precious form of self-respect. Most
    post-docs de facto take vows of poverty to continue to do intellectual
    work. It is wise to cast off the humility once and a while.

    A little blare of the horns reminds some of us that it is also worth
    considering the quasi-impossibility of institutions on certain
    continents to recognize accomplishments garnered outside the academy.
    Faculties of medicine and engineering seem to encouter the problem of
    inadvertant brain-drain-by-enclosure less.

    A true measure of tracks the successes of not only post-docs but as many
    graduates as possible. The trick is that some of those graduates who have
    done (and continue to do) humanities computing work did so outside of
    humanities computing programs.

    Apples, oranges, fruit, in celebration of a cornocopia of talents


    > I say this not so much to toot horns as to add more data to support the
    > contention that humanities computing research work is gaining respect: it
    > would be interesting to get some numbers on how many humanities-computing
    > postdocs there are out there, and, more important, how many of them are
    > going on to tenure-track jobs or other employment in academia, where the
    > real measure of respect for the field might be taken.

    <civic.name>Fran&ccedil;ois Lachance</civic.name>
    <activity>Actively visiting <?insert URN?></activity>
    <motto><w corresp="grok">gork</w> structure, savour <w
    corresp="peace">content</w>, <s ana="play-with-piece">enjoy

    --[2]------------------------------------------------------------------ Date: Sun, 09 Mar 2003 09:48:17 +0000 From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk> Subject: professionalization and its cost

    Others here may know more than I about the professionalization of the disciplines. I have little more than anecdotal experience to draw on -- of reading around in classics journals of the 1930s and finding, for example, an article on something in the Aeneid by a manager at the Acme Tool and Die Works. Unless I am quite mistaken, that doesn't happen any more because of professionalization. I recall said article on the Aeneid as being a good one. I can understand the desire to raise standards, and so to screen out work which was more about Life than Latin poetry. But I also recall arguments to the effect that in professionalizing the disciplines we have lost something rather valuable -- and not only the odd article from a plant manager. What about "public understanding of the humanities"?

    The exuberance now in the air, in the springtime of humanities computing, will not I hope prevent us from seeing that we have an opportunity here to avoid the exclusionary aspects of professionalization. We're in a position to negotiate the terms of our admission to the club -- not because we're politically powerful but because it is up to us to say what humanities computing is that, for example, it should have postdocs. Or am I too intoxicated with the sight of budding plants, increasingly longer days and doors open into the back garden?

    Yours, WM

    Dr Willard McCarty | Senior Lecturer | Centre for Computing in the Humanities | King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS || +44 (0)20 7848-2784 fax: -2980 || willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/wlm/

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