From CUNY Academic Commons
Here are a few entry points to ongoing – often heated – debates in the field. What topics would you add? What other readings would you recommend to someone new to DH?
The Digital Humanities and the Humanities
The annual MLA Convention seems to provoke intense discussion of the relationship between the Humanities and the Digital Humanities, often focused by coverage in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Articles are below, with responses. Be sure to read the comments too.
William Pannapacker announces the “arrival” of DH.
- “The MLA and the Digital Humanities,” William Pannapacker, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec. 28, 2009
- “The MLA, @briancroxall, and the non-rise of the Digital Humanities,” Dave Parry, Jan. 6, 2010
- “Be online or be irrelevant,” Dave Parry, Jan. 11, 2010
- “The Future of the Humanities,” Cathy Davidson, Jan. 9, 2010
- “The Turtlenecked Hairshirt: Fetid and Fragrant Futures for the Humanities,” Ian Bogost, Jan. 9, 2010
Pannapacker’s review finds DH triumphant, but dominated by an in-group/out-group mentality – DH has its “stars,” DH itself is the “cool kids’ table.”
- “Pannapacker at MLA: Digital Humanities Triumphant?,” William Pannapacker, Jan. 8, 2011
- “Digital Humanities Silos and Outreach,” Perian Sully, Jan. 9, 2011
- “The (DH) Stars Come Out in LA,” Matt Kirschenbaum, Jan. 13, 2011
The fireworks this time are brought by Stanley Fish, no less.
- See Stanley Fish’s articles in the New York Times.
- Responses come from Martin Mueller, Ted Underwood, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Matthew Wilkens, and Timothy Burke, among others.
Marking the Field (Turf Wars?)
There are tensions within the field too – see the above posts, and the many Definitions of DH. As Whittney Trettien puts it: “Who can claim to be a digital humanist? Do you have to have a PhD? How much coding do you have to know? Are humanities bloggers and twitterers participating in e-scholarship? At the root of it all: how do we (or do we not) want to delimit our community?”
- “The Stakes of Disciplinarity,” Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Jan. 14, 2010
- “Inclusion in the Digital Humanities,” Geoff Rockwell (work in progress)
- “Humanities Computing as Digital Humanities,” Patrik Svensson, Digital Humanities Quarterly v3 n3 (Summer 2009)
- “What Is Humanities Computing and What Is Not?,” John Unsworth, Nov. 8, 2002
- “Digital Humanities Vs the Digital Humanist,” Whittney Trettien, Apr. 13, 2010
- “Digital Humanities is a Spectrum: or, We’re All Digital Humanists Now,” Lincoln Mullen, Apr. 29, 2010
- A provocation: “Who’s In and Who’s Out,” Steve Ramsay, Jan. 8, 2011. Which he thoughtfully re-frames a few days later: “On Building,” Jan. 13, 2011
A Culture of Making, and Its Implications
Many DHers subscribe to a project-based, build-something mentality that has been summarized as “more hack, less yack,” or “less talk, more grok” – see for instance, THATCamp, and One Week | One Tool. The emphasis is on teamwork and collaboration versus the “lone scholar” model. But it also raises a range of questions: do digital humanists need coding skills? How do all members of the team get the recognition they deserve (and need to prove their worth to their employers)? How can we promote openness in our making practices? Is making in tension with thinking?
To Code or Not to Code – A Canard?
- “Hello Worlds,” Matt Kirschenbaum, May 23, 2010
- “A ‘Hello World’ Apart (Why Humanities Students Should Not Learn to Program),” Evan Donahue, May 28, 2010
- The debate is joined by Ian Bogost (“Computers Are Systems Not Languages,” Jan. 25, 2011) and Tim Morton “Should Computer ‘Languages’ Qualify as Foreign Languages for PhDs?, ” Jan. 25, 2011)
- An important perspective added by Miriam Posner – “Some things to think about before you exhort everyone to code,” Feb. 29, 2012 – eliciting thoughtful, frank, and powerful comments (see especially Steve Ramsay’s contribution).
Collaboration and Participation:
- “monopolies of invention,” Bethany Nowviskie, Dec. 30, 2010
- “where credit is due,” Bethany Nowviskie, May 31, 2011
- The NEH-funded report “Off the Tracks: Laying New Lines for Digital Humanities Scholars,” which includes a “Collaborators’ Bill of Rights“
- “Participating in the Bazaar: Sharing Code in the Digital Humanities,” Jeremy Boggs, Jun. 10, 2010
Thinking and Making:
- “Sunset for Ideology, Sunrise for Methodology,” Tom Scheinfeldt, Mar. 13, 2008
- “I’m Chris. Where am I wrong?,” Chris Forster, Sep. 8, 2010 – a great post that triggered intense and wide-ranging discussion in the comments, a major topic being Scheinfeldt’s argument above
- See also this recent thread on DHAnswers, “Doing DH vs Theorizing DH“
Calls to Action
Melissa Terras’s address has been widely acclaimed; the Manifestos have received more uneven endorsement. Bethany Nowviskie summons us to reform graduate education, and Lisa Spiro issues a call for the DH community to create an open, distributed certificate program in the digital humanities. Alan Liu challenges DH to be more critically engaged with our culture, and to take a leadership role in advocating for the humanities. Jim Groom’s post – a vision of open education more generally – is straight from the heart and, for CUNYites, an anthem.
- Melissa Terras’s Plenary Address at DH2010; video is available at arts-humanities.net. Matt Kirschenbaum (via Twitter): “my summation of @melissaterras’s justly lauded #dh2010 plenary: party’s over folks, time to get our shit together.”
- It starts on Day One,” Bethany Nowviskie, Nov. 12, 2011
- “Opening Up Digital Humanities Education,” Lisa Spiro, Sep. 8, 2010
- “THATCamp Paris 2010 Manifesto for the Digital Humanities“
- “The Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0,” developed by the UCLA Mellon Seminar in the Digital Humanities
- “Where is cultural criticism in the digital humanities?, Alan Liu, Jan. 7, 2011
- “I Bleed CUNY Blood,” Jim Groom, May 25, 2009
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