Digital humanities and the democracy of old school

This is my last post of the year (and many of you may sigh in relief). I will write about the debates about the DH as a field again and my shifting perspectives. Ideas such as the methodological commons and collaboration as justification for the area 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 (i.e. anything for anybody, anywhere). The condottiere was a band of mercenaries common in Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries; one could argue that the methodological commons serve a similar purpose in the DH.

MethodologicalCommons2-1024x723A better understanding of DH would be regarding the revenge of old school. And by old school, I don’t mean the economic elite, but the old-fashioned cultural elite (the Tweed set). They are not such bad people (very polite and well-mannered) and have been on the back foot to Modernity, especially the American type, for quite some time. This is 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 most significant contribution the DH has made to date is democratising 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. In one person, the DH combines Shakespeare and the laptop, old school and new school. Thus, it is classless (…?).

See you next year!



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