I have sent and bene all this morning hunting for players, juglers & such kind of creaturs, but find them harde to finde

January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment


I want to propose that the dark side of the digital humanities is its bright side, its alleged promise: its alleged promise to save the humanities by making them and their graduates relevant, by giving their graduates technical skills that will allow them to thrive in a difficult and precarious job market. Speaking partly as a former engineer, this promise strikes me as bull: knowing GIS or basic statistics or basic scripting (or even server side scripting) is not going to make English majors competitive with engineers or CS geeks trained here or increasingly abroad (***straight up programming jobs are becoming increasingly less lucrative***)

My main argument is this: the vapid embrace of the digital is a form of what Lauren Berlant has called “cruel optimism.”

So, the blind embrace of DH (***think here of “The Old Order Changeth***) allows us to believe that this time (once again) graduate students will get jobs. It allows us to believe that the problem facing our students and our profession is a lack of technical savvy rather than an economic system that undermines the future of our students…

Now, if the bright side of the digital humanities is the dark side, let me suggest that the dark side—what is now considered to be the dark side—may be where we need to be. The dark side, after all, is the side of passion…

This dark side also entails taking on our fears and biases to create deeper collaborations with the sciences and engineering. It entails forging joint (frictional and sometimes fractious) coalitions to take on problems such as education, global change etc.. It means realizing that the humanities don’t have a lock on creative or critical thinking and realizing that research in the sciences can be as useless as research in the humanities—and that this is a good thing. It’s called basic research.

It also entails realizing that what’s most interesting about the digital in general is perhaps not what has been touted as its promise, but rather what’s been discarded or decried as its trash (***think here of all those failed DH tools, which have still opened up new directions***)read more

ART: Andre Petterson

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