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Humanist Archives: June 14, 2019, 5:55 a.m. Humanist 33.87 - the future of the humanities

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 87.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
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                Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org

    [1]    From: Henry Schaffer 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.86: the future of the humanities (116)

    [2]    From: Jim Rovira 
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.86: the future of the humanities (30)

        Date: 2019-06-13 17:58:41+00:00
        From: Henry Schaffer 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.86: the future of the humanities

  Thanks for your discussion, and I want to go a bit further into that
topic - but first I want to mention a scolding I received on my campus when
I sent this out on a DH mailing list. I was told that my note looked too
much like spam/phishing. One suggestion was "It's not hard to type in a
little text in the body of your message to
establish that you've actually written the email and it's not phishing."
Good advice which I might keep in mind. :-)

  Next, I'll discuss the topic below in the context of Ken's post:

On Thu, Jun 13, 2019 at 1:41 AM Humanist  wrote:

>                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 33, No. 86.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                    Hosted by King's Digital Lab
>                        www.dhhumanist.org
>                 Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org
>         Date: 2019-06-12 07:44:22+00:00
>         From: Ken Friedman 
>         Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.76: the future of the humanities?
> Dear Henry,
> >        From: Henry Schaffer 
> >        Subject: Would you censor this?
> >
> > https://www.gocomics.com/wumo/2019/06/10
> Thanks for this. I would not censor it - in a sense, it is a political
> cartoon.
> This is a comment on the current state of universities in contemporary
> societies. The situation of the humanities in universities is not entirely
> the
> doing of the universities. On one hand, universities in many nations are
> required to educate an increasing number of students people with an
> increasing
> range of offerings, many linked to post-graduation employability measures.
> On
> the other hand, the governments and funding agencies on which universities
> depend provide decreasing resources for these greater demands.
>   An interesting essay is Andrew Kay's
which is written from the perspective of a fairly recent Ph.D. recipient in
English. It's a "Premium" article and so might be hard to access if you or
your campus isn't a subscriber.

  I think that a) the decline of the humanities is a bad thing, and b)
perhaps the digital humantities can help bring a new era about in terms of

  Taking a step back, all in all, one of the topics which has hit every
discipline including engineering, biological sciences, ..., is that
graduate programs have grown far beyond just supplying the next generation
of faculty. In many STEM fields this has not been a problem because
many/most of the PhD graduates go off into non-academic careers (and are
compensated for the attainment of their PhD.) I'm not sure the same
opportunity is there for (traditional) humanities PhD graduates.

> People with a humanities degree were once suited to many kinds of jobs.
> Changes
> to the world economy have reduced the number of jobs that once needed
> people
> with the capacity for analytical and critical thinking. At the same time,
> there
> are even fewer real jobs in universities where humanists might still seek
> work.
> (There is some debate to be had on this - there may actually be a modestly
> increasing number of academic jobs for graduates with a PhD, while the
> supply of
> doctors has grown at a far greater rate. Even so, it remains true that the
> greatest number of university jobs today are short-term gigs, and there
> are no
> jobs for people who only have a BA in a university world over-populated by
> unemployed doctors.)

Might the digital humanities areas change this situation, and indeed open
career paths similar to the new hot areas of advanced-analytics/data-science? 
But ones oriented to textual material, multiple languages, ...? Here is a 
fascinating development - combining AI with composition

Might this be a place where a DH Ph.D. person might be a better team member
than an engineer or computer scientist?

> The graduated humanities student wonders what happened. The fortune teller
> is a
> political economist trying to explain the world in which we find ourselves.
> It's a wealthy world - but much of the wealth resides in ever fewer hands,
> unavailable for funding the universities and organisations that were once
> considered public goods. Instead, we see ostentatious spending like the
> purchase
> of the questionable Leonardo, followed by the placement of the painting on
> the
> interior wall of a private yacht belonging to a wealthy prince.
> Completely blank indeed.

  I also find this depressing, but wonder if producing more critical
thinkers, more productive people and reorient this world?


        Date: 2019-06-13 15:59:10+00:00
        From: Jim Rovira 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 33.86: the future of the humanities

I wouldn't censor it, but it's nonsense. There has been plenty of reporting
about businesses wanting grads with soft skills provided by the humanities.
And there's been plenty of reporting about earnings, but they tend to be
misleading in that they group a bunch of different majors together that
produce very diverse results. I wouldn't talk about what "humanities"
majors earn unless the degree actually says "humanities." But if you group
English majors with ed. and some other fields, you'll get a distorted view
of English major earnings. Looking at the MA and not Bachelor's degree
level, one report I read within the last couple of years indicated that
people with an MA in English only earn about $7K less per year than MBAs 24
years out, when they're in their 50s or so. There's a bigger gap earlier
career because so many go into teaching and then get out of it, and those
are low income jobs.

The issue is getting that first job. Tell your "humanities" majors to get
internships and minor in something outside the humanities, like marketing
or public relations, or develop coding skills, or a combination of similar

Jim R

> > https://www.gocomics.com/wumo/2019/06/10
Dr. James Rovira 
Bright Futures Educational Consulting

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