One elucidation just leads to another challenging questionPosted: October 12, 2011
Mark Sample’s view of digital humanities simply makes more sense to me than Stephen Ramsay’s. Before I even began to learn more about the field, the term digital humanities to me evoked more of a sense of openness and independence. Sample’s article supports my initial perception of digital humanities. However, Sample’s ideals also make me want to further question the legitimacy works published and released online.
Sample begins by explaining how we should not try to define digital humanities based on its divides and tensions. He writes, “The heart of the digital humanities is not the production of knowledge; it’s the reproduction of knowledge.” This single statement elucidated the idea of digital humanities for me better than reading several articles on the topic. It seemed to me that I had already known this, but I needed to see it expressed in this simple and clear way. In the example of our Mrs. Dalloway mappings, we didn’t produce knowledge, but we reproduced what Woolf had already created into a different medium.
When I read Ramsay’s definition of digital humanities, I was dismayed to think that digital humanities could be a more restricted field than I once believed. However, I could swallow this concept because if DH was more restricted, it seemed like a more legitimate study. After reading Sample’s work, I agree more with Sample’s view of DH, but with such open and unrestrained sharing of works as he suggests, I think comes the question of legitimacy. I know he states that we shouldn’t be preoccupied with this matter now, but I disagree. I think quality of the works should come before unlimited mass sharing. In theory, it’s nice to say we should look forward and not be “complacent, hesitant, or entrenched in the present”, but I don’t think anyone is. Some people who responded to this article listed several self-publishing units already up and running. Parlor Press for example looks well established and has developed works from 400 authors. I simply hope that publishers such as this one have dependable reviewing before the works become available for everyone and anyone to read and reference to.