September 24 Meeting

Readings for this week: Espen Aarseth ("Humanistic Informatics and its Relation to the Humanities") and Willard McCarty ("What Is Humanities Computing?")

Opposing models: humanities computing as theoretical discipline and as a practice based on collegial service.

Different perspectives: philological computing (McCarty) and hypermedia computing (Aarseth)

Is there a distinction between HC as a "discipline" and media studies?

Discussion of similar anxieties about status in Computer Science departments and among mathematicians and textual critics / bibliographers.

HC first embraced by classicists, medievalists, and bibliographers -- people familiar with the tools and methods of textual analysis.

Is the science of HC located in the act of representation that mediates between the data and the computer? And is this enough to constitute a discipline?

Possible to expand the definition of HC by adding the concept of generating data (or of defamiliarization) to that of analyzing data.

Practical issues: Is it better to bring about change by "infecting" the existing disciplines with a few scholars versed in HC, or by asserting HC as a new discipline?

And is it really necessary to define HC as a discipline in order to get funding, etc? (example of "American Studies," which has no real, coherent theory)

(Situation may, however, be too different for useful comparison. American Studies as flight from existing structures vs. HC as gravitation toward new concepts and practices.)

Problem of pedagogy: Where is HC best placed in the academy to benefit students? What would the aims of an HC program be? (Academic or vocational training?) Not Tool Use 101, but rather the conceptual background for tool building and the envisioning of new uses for tools. (Or is this merely the necessary rhetoric?)

Relation to Computer Science / IT Departments: Need to place HC in terms of what the humanities can bring to computer science, and not just view computer science as a service industry. Should persuade both camps that they can learn from each other.

Discussion of the malleability of the tools at hand as problematic in designing a curriculum, or even in identifying a coherent body of knowledge for humanities computing.