Sunday, August 21, 2016

Melissa Dinsman interviews Richard Grusin in the last LARB interview on DH

Where should the work be done? departments, libraries, labs? of the things I really loved, more than even the networked computer classroom, was the computer lab for our masters program. I would go in the lab regularly to just kind of kibitz and chitchat and see what was going on with people, because at almost any hour of the day there would be some grad student in there working. It was a fun environment: it was loose, informal, collaborative, and the hierarchies broke down — I was the student. So I’m a huge fan of labs. I think one of the positive aspects of the digital humanities has been the creation of these kinds of open and different spaces.

How do you think the general public understands the term “digital humanities” or, more broadly, the digital work being done in the humanities (if at all)?

My first inclination is to say not much. But I think there are two places where digital work in the humanities is being done, and often being done outside the academy. One of these places is participatory culture. There has been an explosion of students writing online, be it blogging or fan fiction or whatever. And I think this is really one of the places where digital work in the humanities is being done as a result of changes in technology. We haven’t really made enough of a connection between this kind of participatory culture and the classroom, but I think we are moving in that direction. The other place is in the classroom. We think of the public in a kind of consumerist way. But our students are also the public. As college is becoming more and more universal, all of those students who are taking humanities courses are part of the public, and I don’t think most of them understand the digital humanities. DH is a branding tool for faculty and getting resources.

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