17.552 rupture and the "self-study" route

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Wed Jan 21 2004 - 03:42:00 EST

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 552.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

         Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2004 08:11:57 +0000
         From: Julia Flanders <Julia_Flanders@brown.edu>
         Subject: Re: 17.542 rupture, continuing openness and an end to the

I think Willard is absolutely right, that keeping open the "self-study"
route is essential--not just because such a route will continue to be a
source of creative, intelligent influx to the humanities computing
community, but also because it reminds us to evaluate things (and people)
by looking at their merits rather than through the codified symbology of
credentials. In the back of my mind I have the "crisis in scholarly
publishing" which seems to me in many ways to be founded on precisely this
problem: the displacement of critical evaluation onto a system (e.g. peer
review) and away from some more direct interaction ("I read this book and
found it useful/rubbish/astute but of limited impact/etc."). While the
basic idea behind the system makes sense (you find out what qualified peers
think), we're now in a situation where the system has been reified to the
point where its habits and usages matter more, have more momentum and
significance, than the underlying purposes being accomplished.

I can see why in the well-established disciplines this has happened and may
even be necessary, but our community isn't yet at that point: we can cast
our nets widely and assess the significance of what we find for ourselves;
we can hire people who have all sorts of experience and different forms of
education; we're lucky to be in this position still. Even though we may
find it desirable and useful to design educational programs that formalize
what we know and cultivate a new generation of colleagues, we should make
sure that we don't start mistaking those programs for The Way.

Best wishes, Julia

At 9:02 AM +0000 1/19/04, "Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard
McCarty wrote:
>Apart from preliminary responses of mitigation that Rockwell notes, I can
>see two others to that rupture. The first is the selfless response, or what
>might be called the not-worthy-to-tie-the-shoelaces gambit. For those of us
>that have taken the road described above, this has much to recommend it. In
>us it would help engender good mental health. It would also (not to put to
>fine a point on the matter) issue an appropriately bracing challenge to the
>practitioners thus engendered. The second response, however, seems better
>to me: to resist or stitch up the rupture, to keep the self-study road
>open. I would argue against the formation of yet another discipline, with
>its (inevitable?) fall into the "blinding clarity" of intense
>specialization, if only for that reason.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Mar 26 2004 - 11:19:38 EST