Read David Golumbia’s post on the “Dark Side of the Digital” conference yesterday? Consider this:
In 2007, Martha Nell Smith observed:
When I first started attending humanities computing conferences in the mid-1990s, I was struck by how many of the presentations remarked, either explicitly or implicitly, that concerns that had taken over so much academic work in literature—of gender, race, class, sexuality—were irrelevant to humanities computing. For those not held back by the sentimental and simplistic question of whether books would be displaced by electronic media, the field of humanities computing brought the models and rigors of science to the intellectual work of literary and artistic criticism and theory, and in that fulfilled some new critical dreams of bringing objectivity, rational thought, and aesthetic purity to departments of English. Scientific matters of mathematics and computation, objective and hard, do not seem to be subject to the concerns of gender, race, or sexuality. 2 + 2, so the reasoning goes, always equals 4, whether you are black, a woman, a queer, a straight, or whatever. HTML, SGML, XML—the codes that make words and images, texts, processable—and TEI conformancy are supposedly gender-, race-, class-neutral.The codes always work, and the principles always apply, whatever one’s personal identity or social group (or so many seemed to believe). It was as if these matters of objective and hard science provided an oasis for folks who do not want to clutter sharp, disciplined, methodical philosophy with considerations of the gender-, race- and class-determined facts of life. After all, in the wake of the sixties, the humanities in general and their standings in particular had suffered, according to some, from being feminized by these things. Humanities computing seemed to offer a space free from all this messiness and a return to objective questions of representation.” (4)
Martha Nell Smith, “The Human Touch Software of the Highest Order: Revisiting Editing as Interpretation.” Textual Cultures: Texts, Contexts, Interpretation, 2(1):2007, 1-15. Full text available for free here.
In your view, how much of this has changed since Smith’s article was published, if anything?
- What is your perspective on the intermingling of race, class, gender, sexuality and disability and the digital humanities?
- What are your “core” texts of the digital humanities, and how do they engage with race, class, gender, sexuality and disability?
- How are cultures of technology implicated in imperial projects? Is there existing DH work on digital colonialisms?
- How would you write a genealogy of the digital humanities?
- How should the digital humanities adapt and change, if at all?
Please add your comments below.