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Digital humanities and the revenge of ‘old school’

This is my last post of the year (and many of you may sigh in relief). And I am going to write about the debates about the DH as a field again, and my own shifting perspectives. I think ideas such as ‘the methodological commons’ and ‘collaboration’ as justification for the ‘field’ are exhausted concepts, and far from unique and special, they are now becoming hackneyed. They have become weak concepts that lend themselves to exploitation by the condottiere (ie. anything for anybody anywhere). The condottiere were a band of mercenaries common in Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries, one could argue that there ‘methodological commons’ serves a similar purpose in the DH.

MethodologicalCommons2-1024x723I think that a better understanding of DH would be in terms of the ‘revenge of old school’.  And by old school, I don’t mean the economically elite, but the very old fashioned cultural elite (the Tweed set). They are not such bad people (very polite and well-mannered) and they have been on the back foot to Modernity, especially the American type, for quite some time.  This is the where the DH comes to the rescue. It brings ‘old school’ to the masses. Working class kids (like me) tortured in our youth by years of mushy social science, cultural studies, internet studies, two-minute noodles, and VB Beer, now have (critical) access to the digital record of the most important documents in Western history.  This is democracy at its finest.  

The greatest contribution that the DH has made to date is that it ‘democratised’ old school.  It disrupts the classic class-system in Australia (exacerbated by education) where middle-class prats can’t use computers and working class prats don’t know who Shakespeare is.  The DH combines, in one person, Shakespeare and the computer, old school and new school, thus it is classless (…?).

See you next year!


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Contribution: Craig

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