Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 682.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
 From: Adrian Miles <email@example.com> (15)
Subject: Re: 14.0680 prurient interest & political science, or
a question about the curriculum
 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Francois Lachance) (61)
Subject: the political and the sayable
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 07:32:33 +0000
From: Adrian Miles <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: 14.0680 prurient interest & political science, or a
question about the curriculum
At 8:05 AM +0000 18/2/2001, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
>I wonder, is there a political science for the networked world as well as an
>ethics? Should we in thinking about the curriculum of humanities computing
>include aspects of political science? There are CS courses in the area of
>computing and society; can we learn anything from these?
Habermas is routinely used, see as a place to begin
Ess, Charles, ed. Philosophical Perspectives in Computer-Mediated
Communication. New York: State University of New York Press, 1996.
lecturer in cinema studies and new media rmit university. lecturer in new media university of bergen.
hypertext theory engine http://bowerbird.rmit.edu.au:8080/ video blog: vog http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au/vog/
-------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 07:33:08 +0000 From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Francois Lachance) Subject: the political and the sayable
You've opened a door with the invitation to consider political economy and the role and/or obligation we might have in thinking through some issues related to technology, cultural production and civil society.
Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak has a very pointed answer to the question of what an intellectual can do:
There is an impulse among literary critics and other kinds of intellectuals to save the masses, speak for the masses, describe the masses. On the other hand, how about attempting to learn to speak in such a way that the masses will not regard as bullshit.
from "The Problem of Cultural Self-Representation" collected in _The Post-Colonial Critic: Interviews, Strategies, Dialogues_ ed. by Sarah Harasym (Routledge, 1990) p. 56
Now then, if one were to map "computing humanists" onto "intellectuals" and "humanities scholars in general" onto "massess" would one be able to content a focus on the manner of speaking with a question of audience? It tend to gloss the following quotation from Spivak in teleological terms (who you choose to address may be connected to who you want to be):
It seems to me that what I was saying was not that you should consider all other subjects. I was saying that you might want to entertain the notion that you cannot consider all other subjects and that you should look at your own subjective investment in the narrative that is being produced. You see, that is something that I will continue to repeat, it is not an invitation to be benevolent towards others.
from "The Post-modern Condition: The End of Politics?" collected in _The Post-Colonial Critic: Interviews, Strategies, Dialogues_ ed. by Sarah Harasym (Routledge, 1990) p. 29
Lest you think that such thinking leads to a politics of egoism, one last word from Spivak which characterizes the questioning of a text as a way of acquiring a companion:
Since we are not looking for a perfect analysis, but we are looking for the mark of vulnerability which makes a great text not an authority generating a perfect narrative, but our own companion, as it were, so we can share our own vulnerabilities with those texts and move. It seems to me that those are the places where we would begin to question.
from "The Post-modern Condition: The End of Politics?" collected in _The Post-Colonial Critic: Interviews, Strategies, Dialogues_ ed. by Sarah Harasym (Routledge, 1990) p. 27
Perhaps subscribers to Humanist with a ready memory and who have read Wayne Booth's _The company we keep_ may have more to add to this chapter.
Mary Douglas, covered some of this ground in _How Institutions Think_ (1996) and here is a snippet from a 1991 lecture, "The Consumer's Conscience":
Instead of starting from the individual confronting his own basic needs, cultural theory starts from a stable system in which a consumer knows that he [sic] is expected to play some part or he will not get any income. In this theory the consumer has what can be called a cultural project. Everything that he chooses to do or to buy is part of a project to choose other people to be with who will help him to make the kind of society he thinks he will like the best.
collected in _Objects and Objections_ Monograph Series of the Toronto Semiotic Circle, 1992 p. 56
A pressing political question is how to concretely reward those whose academic and intellectual labour provides the legions who, in the Miltonic sense, "serve and wait" or how to at the very least maintain the types of spaces that allow for the leisure of reading, viewing, listening, partaking of culture. Such questions of social reproduction especially in their gendered form may seem to very remote far from the problems of creating digital collections or testing software but they do certainly impinge upon one of the latest threads you have spun: how then shall we teach? and how then shall our pedagogy be tied to our research?
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