The first chapter of Digital_Humanities brought up a question that has been nagging at me for a while: How do you make the learning (be it archives, lectures, dissertations) that takes place in a university available to a wider audience with whom the exchange is potentially mutually beneficial without hurting the people at the bottom of academia–those who, under current models, still need claims to authorship and who teach 30, much less a 1000, students with little compensation? I am, frankly, less concerned with how this works at private schools like Brown than how it affects schools like CUNY, where I studied, worked, taught before coming here. There, the answer to how to address the long waning commitment to funding for public higher education seems to be that you make it cheaper to produce via adjuncts and MOOCs.
While this situation may be too specific to my own interest to be useful for class discussion, I do think it points to the larger charge of DH at the heart of this chapter: that a major part of doing DH is negotiating with and hopefully shaping the dominant culture of universities. MOOCs are largely not a DH thing, I know. But MOOC proponents do seem to employ the rhetoric of DH to advocate on their behalf. This total non-coincidence raises important questions. I don’t think practitioners of the digital humanities can or should police all things digital on their campuses, but I don’t think that technological interventions into classrooms could be said to fall outside their area of concern either (regardless of where one stands on it).
I really appreciate how these authors propose bringing “the critical insights, creative designs, speculative imagination, and methods of comparative, historically informed study” (24) of the humanities to the business models of knowledge-making found in universities, particularly alongside their insistence that “the generative humanities are emphatically not about training for a market” (25). At the same time, I find these assurances a bit at odds with the emphasis on “making things” (10) and the promise that digital methods will make the humanities marketable once more.
My question then, I suppose, is how to keep the optimism about effecting change in educational models without, along the way, fueling the naive or even a little exploitative and counter productive.