15.558 on work in languages other than English

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty (w.mccarty@btinternet.com)
Date: Mon Apr 01 2002 - 06:01:36 EST

  • Next message: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty : "15.559 new on WWW: JoDI, Ubiquity, JEP"

                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 558.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Mon, 01 Apr 2002 11:53:11 +0100
             From: "Domenico Fiormonte" <mc9809@mclink.it>
             Subject: A letter for Humanist

    Dear colleagues,

    I would like to call your attention to three recent and in my opinion
    important publications in the field of Humanties Computing (or *Humanities
    Computer Science*, as rightly proposed by ACO*HUM in 1999):

    1) Jos Antonio Milln, *Internet y el Espaol*, Madrid: Fundacin
    Retevision, 2001.

    2) Raul Mordenti, *Informatica e critica dei testi*, Roma: Bulzoni, 2001.

    3) Rolando Minuti, *Internet et le mtier dhistorien*, Paris: PUF, 2002.

    As you can see, all three publications come from the Romance linguistic
    community, namely French, Italian, Spanish. But linguistic roots, as I will
    try to explain later, are not the only features they have in common.

    *Internet y el Espaol*, among other things, is a political manifesto on
    the policies of language on the Internet, and a humanistic-concerned
    perspective on the role (and power) of language industries in the shaping
    of the future communications tools: mobile phones and multi-editing
    platforms, but also translation software, search engines, etc. Millan
    [www.jamillan.com] points out the importance for Spanish, but also for
    other languages of building language instruments at the local level. This
    can be done both at institutional and educational levels, for example by
    creating new and specific university curricula, but also by stimulating
    goverments to protect national languages from indiscriminate exploitation.

    According to Millan, there is a risk in ignoring the linguistic hegemony of
    a handful of multinational industries: that we will have to pay foreign
    companies for using our language. Not highly improbable, I would say, if
    we look at the current policies of Microsoft.

    *Informatica e critica dei testi* (Computers and Textual Criticism)
    collects some of the best essays I ever read on the theory and practice of
    electronic philology. Raul Mordenti [University of Rome II], a Boccaccio
    expert, is a member of the historical literary computing group founded in
    the 80s by Tito Orlandi at the University of Rome La Sapienza. This group
    has been reflecting on the problems of digital edition and text encoding
    since 1980 (see the volume edited in 1987 by another member of the team,
    the late Giuseppe Gigliozzi, and published in the same series: *Studi di
    codifica e trattamento automatico di testi*, Roma: Bulzoni).

    If you read a little Italian, youll be delighted by the clear, elegant
    prose of Mordenti. Although not equally known (he published only in
    Italian), Raul stands among other pioneers of digital textual criticism in
    reading his essays, I cant help thinking of Peter Robinsons philological
    rigour and Jerome McGanns innovative (and someone might also say
    heretical) critical approach.

    The third book on my list, *Internet et le mtier dhistorien* (*Internet
    and the job of the Historian*), shares many of the good points already
    mentioned: clarity of style and rigour of thought above all. This volume
    appears in the new important series of the Presses Universitaires de
    France, Ecritures lectroniques. Modestly presented as an introduction to
    the Internet for the historian, Minutis work is much more than that: it is
    a profound, documented analysis on the impact of new technologies on the
    intellectual work, and it is a reflection on the scholarly author in the
    era of digital archives and dynamic electronic sources. Minuti discusses
    the uses of the Internet for scholarly publishing, and the problems of
    evaluation and academic recognition involved an area to which he brings
    his experience with the newly forged Florence University Press.

    Rolando Minuti is Professor of Modern History at the University of
    Florence, and with other colleagues has implemented in 1998 one of the
    first postgraduate programme on History and Computing, a pilot educational
    project fairly unique in Italy and abroad.

    The University of Florence is about to launch the new Italian potsgraduate
    programme in *Informatica per le discipline umanistiche*. But what does it
    mean exactly? Well, thanks to the recent university reform in Italy we now
    have a complete two-years course in Humanities Computer Science recognized
    at national level. This means that any university in the country dont
    forget we have a State-led educational system, and everything must be
    decided and negotiated at national level can implement this course, and if
    necessary adjust the core curriculum to local requirements and demands.

    And this is not all. Underway, the small but pugnacious HC Italian
    community is struggling for the *official* recognition of the Informatica
    Umanistica as a national subject that can be taught also at graduate level.
    This would imply a major revolution in the HC scenario: as far as I know,
    it would be the first time and not just in Europe that a Full Professor
    of Humanities Computing can be appointed by a university! No more
    dictatorship of other disciplines; no more academic Cinderellas: HC as a
    real *academic subject*!


    This piece of good news allows me to introduce some ideas regarding the
    European HC curriculum, ideas and also concerns I have been discussing with
    many friends (especially during past sessions of CLiP or within the CHIME
    project [for more info on this initiative see

    It is not very often that we read on Humanist about books published in
    languages other than English. I have found this situation sometimes
    frustrating, sometimes irritating, but more often just very sad (and this
    is not the first time I am writing about it), as I think that linguistic
    and cultural diversity are a key factor to the successful development of
    Humanities Computing.

    But publications are not the only problem. An incredible amount of work,
    both practical and theoretical (of which the above mentioned publications
    are one of the less evident results) has been done in Continental Europe in
    the last ten years. I can easily point here to papers presented at CLiP
    2001 [http://www.uni-duisburg.de/FB3/CLiP2001/], for example the excellent
    contribution of Manfred Thaller.

    But it is hard to find any trace of this debate in some conferences
    officially dedicated to the subject. I dont know why this is happening.
    Lack of linguistic competence? cultural shock? Who knows.

    A clear example is the recent meeting of Alberta (Nov 2001). Only six (6)
    out of thirty-five (35) papers were presented by scholars coming from
    Europe, and of these six people, only two or three were coming from
    non-English speaking countries. Not enough, in my opinion, to give such a
    universal title to the conference: Humanities Computing Curriculum
    Conference. Whatever the organizers intentions were (and I am sure they
    all had very good intentions), the HC curruculum in North America and the
    UK would have been perhaps more realistic.

    Of course I am not trying here to accuse the meeting of Alberta of HC
    Imperialism, and far be it from me to critique Humanist I have too much
    respect and esteem for all the members of this list and its moderator.
    However, Id like to urge all members of the international HC community to
    pay more attention to people, events and publications coming from places
    different from UK, North America and other English-speaking countries.

    Possibly, it is time to create something like a Southern branch of the
    ACH, or may be we need a whole new association for professionals and
    researchers coming from other areas of Europe. I dont have any solution
    ready in my mind, and I would like to discuss this with you. But I know
    many colleagues share similar concerns when I say that non-English
    Humanities Computing research and scholarship have been not consistently
    and fairly represented in official publications and events.


    Domenico Fiormonte
    Professore a contratto
    Universit di Roma II / Universit di Roma La Sapienza

    Dr Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer,
    Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London,
    Strand, London WC2R 2LS, U.K.,
    +44 (0)20 7848-2784, ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/,
    willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk, w.mccarty@btinternet.com

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Apr 01 2002 - 06:18:29 EST