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digest 1998-10-10 #001.txt

From: "Society for Literature & Science" 

Daily SLS Email Digest
-> Re: Quietude....
by Noel Gough 
by Sebastien Jean 
Date: 9 Oct 1998 00:53:23 -0700
From: Noel Gough 
Subject: Re: Quietude....
At 9:55 PM -0700 7/10/98, Wayne Miller wrote:
>This list has been extremely quiet lately.
>I don't know how many of you have taken the opportunity to subscribe
>H-Nexa (part of the H-Net 'family' of listservs). I am subscribed to
>digest, because the traffic on the list is simply too great. Still,
it has
>a good deal of energy and lots of ideas midst the saber-rattling
I eventually quit getting the digest for the same reasons, so getting
occasional bone  [would that be predigested?] from there and
might be more useful...
Noel Gough
Associate Professor
Deakin Centre for Education and Change
Deakin University
221 Burwood Highway
Burwood Victoria 3125
+61 (0)3 9244 3854 (voice)
+61 (0)3 9244 6752 (fax)
Date: 9 Oct 1998 12:38:48 -0700
From: Sebastien Jean 
Humanities and Computing:  Who's Driving?
Articles must be submitted before December 1st 1998.
See the section Submission of texts in our
WWW page for submission guidelines.
Send submissions to:
Computers are ever more present. They have an
impact on many aspects of our work in the humanities.
Can we follow Regis Debray in pointing out, that
the new media and, in the humanities, the growing
prominence of the 'electronic book' are making clear
the degree to which our disciplines are contingent
on what he calls the "media-sphere"?(Debray 1994)
The last time _Surfaces_ published a collection on
computing in the humanities, we focused our
attention on scholarly publishing. (see Volume IV, 1994)
Today, a larger question needs to be asked: are the
forms of knowledge associated with humanities
affected by computing? To some extent, through
the use of computers, boundaries between the
disciplines become porous; viewed as data, all the
source material of the arts and humanities become
increasingly similar objects of knowledge. The
rigidity of the machine demands the same
systematicity of all its users. Data and analytic
procedures, as Willard McCarty has pointed out,
rendered explicit for computing, become sharable
in ways not possible before. (McCarty 1998)
As William Winder puts it, we might possibly have
entered a different paradigm of research in the
humanities, which he calls the neo-Wissenschaft era,
in which accumulation of data, often under the guise
of reuse and retrieval, has become of paramount
importance. (Winder 1997)
These are largely questions of sociology and epistemology
of knowledge. But they carry many practical questions,
especially in a time when the survival of the humanities
appears to be at stake.
Training colleagues and students in Information Technology
(IT) springs to mind as a priority. However questions
need to be raised as how to both balance such training
with other curricular activities and how to link IT to
other preoccupations of scholars in the humanities.
To this day, much of the work in humanities computing
has been done by senior academics who can afford to
risk putting time on a long-term project. But many
a project has been that of a Don Quixote lacking
the basic institutional commitment.
Can humanities computing truly become an
interdisciplinary forum and foster exchange and
collaboration? Among the system-wide effects of
computing in the academy is, as Jaroslav Pelikan
has observed (Pelikan 1992), a weakening of the
boundary separating those who use information
from those who provide it. Can it produce this
reconfiguration of the academy?
Debray, Regis. 1994 _Manifestes medialogiques_ Paris: Gallimard.
McCarty, Willard. 1998. What Is Humanities Computing?
Toward a Definition of the Field. (Talk given in the Spring of 1998)
Pelikan, Jaroslav. 1992. _The Idea of a University:
a Re-examination_ New Haven: Yale University Press.
Winder, William. 1997. "Texpert Systems"
in _Computing in the Humanities Working Papers_
Surfaces' URL: