DH, Scholarship and Alt-Ac
Discussions with colleagues on Facebook about the digital humanities, #alt-ac, and the future of scholarship.
- @Katie: I'm assuming that you mean whatever argument Stanley Fish is trying to make about the religiosity of dh, right? I read another interesting comment on Twitter by Brian Croxall, where he says that "I feel like Fish is *so* determined to have his predictions about literature and religion come true that he can't see anything else." This is so symptomatic of older scholarly ecologies that emphasize individual critical (as opposed to collaborative and creative) models of inquiry. Not that they need to be opposed, but they often are.
- Roger Whitson The opposition you invoke (though you immediately qualify it) is one of the (for my taste) too easy, slick, and often unexamined slogans of the DH movement. Why do DH advocates so often denigrate individual critical work? And what about individual creative work? Or collaborative critical work? Now that DH has established itself within the institutional ecology of the MLA, NEH, and other such organizations, it's time to move past enthusiasm and boosterism and begin to think critically and historically (both forms of creative making to my mind) about the place of DH in the intellectual ecology of the humanities and its relation to the powerful (and more dangerous) forces of neoliberalism, securitization, and globalization. Alan Liu has been quite creative in laying out this (dare I say it) critique of the current state of DH.
- @Richard: My argument is actually the opposite, that older scholarly ecologies make that distinction to the detriment of collaborative work. For example, too many departments still valorize the individual monograph above and beyond collaborative writing or collaborative digital work. Things are changing, to be sure, but I'm of the opinion that both creative and critical work can be enhanced with a collaborative spirit. Not that this means that no one can do individual work, but simply that a collaborative/collegial spirit in terms of intellectual property can have unexpected results. gotta get on a plane...but id love to talk about this further...
- "it describes how culture actually gets produced, and thus liberates us from the psychologically burdening and idolatrous worship of the Great Men and Women who create culture (and scholarship) that ordinary people can only consume (and cite). It reveals that most authors (in whatever medium and institution) are only just little people behind the curtain, aided in making a big show by the machinery of criticism and the accumulation of cultural capital among elites. Across every medium you care to name, what digital technologies are revealing is that the set of people who make “good culture” is vastly larger than what the post-1945 gatekeepers of high culture claimed: that there are hundreds of good photographers, webcomics creators, fiction writers, scholarship producers, documentarians, sketch artists, for every one that late 20th Century gatekeepers claimed there were." blogs.swarthmore.edu/burke/...
- More important, those without college educations are earning much, much less than 40 years ago. For those who pay attention to these things, it's been clear for three decades that the going to college wage "bonus" is a canard. It's a _penalty_ for not going. Today, actually, it's a penalty for not going to grad school. Which is part of my answer to the folks who think they've done their duty to the profession by saying, "Oh I tell kids not to get a PhD." Bully for you, but where exactly are you saying they should go? The point is to fix the shitty workplace and profession you're in, not to say, "Ha, guess I was lucky! Get yours someplace else, kid!"
- It is such an Alice in Wonderland feeling reading this sort of thing from Norway. I just attended a day long session dedicated to discussing how we convince more young people not to go to 'academic' college but, rather, to attend the technical college and get degrees in subjects required by industry (maritime engineering, logistics...) and for which they would be paid very generously.
- What Paul de Man called the "resistance to reading" literature and philosophy has now extended to dissertations and peer-review as well. No need even to read what's submitted before it's not published (or vice versa-- if you are already es...tablished and have a high credit rating your publication is pre-approved). Foucault quite hsyterically articulated back in 1971 the many ways reviewers of books do not review the book under review.
- @Richard: Yeah, I feel that ppl have resisted reading and reviewing for quite some time. This is probably why the academic star system developed. I'm an advocate of post-publication review, mostly b/c I'm convinced that having three peers ...review my work before it's published and no one reads it -- really isn't review at all. Let people outside the academy read and review the work. Let the status of my work depend not on my celebrity, but on the way my work helps others. Prepare students for film production, for computation, for learning how to write grants and collaborate with other Universities. This will help them in the long run. I talk about this at length in my blog post on rethinking graduate education: rogerwhitson.net/?p=1238.
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