Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 372. Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London Hosted by King's Digital Lab www.dhhumanist.org Submit to: email@example.com Date: 2019-11-04 06:22:11+00:00 From: Willard McCarty
Subject: what is...? Jeffrey Savoye has asked a question that has been around since the 1960s, at least in Anglophone discussions: to use the current term, "what is Digital Humanities?" One could say, for that matter, what is English Studies? Would we come up with a coherent answer by listening in on discussions across the specialisms or by examining curricula? One would come up with a list of ostensible subjects, but could anyone argue for their coherence? Having such arguments would provide for a worthy discussion. One answer for why this is so is that the very attempt at definition is wrong-headed, that discipline X is what its practitioners do, not what anyone says X is. Another answer, specific to the humanities, is that the disciplines thus named can only be defined by what they are not: formerly, not the study of the affairs proper to God (that's theology); now, not the study of the physical world, nor the study of society. Is it a problem that the humanities elude definition? The best I've ever been able to do with "digital humanities" is to say what I am interested in and what I make of it, e.g. in answer to a neighbour or taxi-driver. Occasionally that actually works. I've spent some time reading formal grant applications that these days often refer to digital humanities as part of what is proposed. Often all that is meant is use of a computer to do things that once done become results that presumably have some value, whereas the instrumental means of getting them remain unexamined and are very likely forgotten. I think we can safely say that in those cases "digital humanities" is an empty term. If, for whatever subject, these means are critically examined, then the term has substance. As long as what was done with the machine is preserved and examined, we have something to work with. Comments? Yours, WM -- Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor emeritus, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (www.tandfonline.com/loi/yisr20) and Humanist (www.dhhumanist.org) _______________________________________________ Unsubscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted List posts to: firstname.lastname@example.org List info and archives at at: http://dhhumanist.org Listmember interface at: http://dhhumanist.org/Restricted/ Subscribe at: http://dhhumanist.org/membership_form.php
Editor: Willard McCarty (King's College London, U.K.; Western Sydney University, Australia)
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