19.708 why the (digital) humanities need the (digital) arts

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 14 Apr 2006 10:09:37 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 708.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Fri, 14 Apr 2006 10:03:01 +0100
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: why the (digital) humanities need the (digital) arts

Having just had a privileged look at the Digital Humanities
conference programme, I have in mind a session-title I saw there,
"Why the Digital Humanities Need the Digital Arts". I have no idea
what is to be said at the session, but I'm certainly inclined to
think that the speakers are onto something quite important. The
divorcement of the humanities from the arts, painfully evident in
some departments of art history, for example, is an inheritance we
can well do without. The historical training of engineers as artists
(in the Renaissance), the history of technology and (I'd guess) the
experience of programming all point toward common elements of a
potential community of practice that is, or will be, stronger for
becoming a self-recognized community. "The craft of research" is far
more than the title of a worthy volume by Booth et al -- it's an
alert to the craftsmanship of research, in the humanities and
elsewhere, and to truths about how it is to be taught as well as
practiced. It may be in the disposition of some only to sit and think
-- for those who do this well, more power to their theoretical elbow
-- but for us how we know what we know is a matter of method, and so
of methodology that never wanders away to set up house on its own.

This community of practice, I keep thinking and saying, has far more
in common with the experimental sciences, with their equipment and
laboratories, than it has differences. (These differences are very
important, but it's impossible to see them clearly without first
seeing the commonalities.) Computing in the laboratory, studio and
study alerts us to deeper ties.



Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities Computing | Centre for
Computing in the Humanities | King's College London | Kay House, 7
Arundel Street | London WC2R 3DX | U.K. | +44 (0)20 7848-2784 fax:
-2980 || willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/wlm/
Received on Fri Apr 14 2006 - 05:31:04 EDT

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