Editors’ Choice: A Second Round-up of Responses to “The LA Neoliberal Tools (and Archives)”

Creative Commons image by Conor Lawless via Flickr

Daniel Allington, Sarah Brouillette, and David Golumbia’s recent article, “The LA Neoliberal Tools (and Archives): A Political History of Digital Humanities,” argues that digital humanities “most significant contribution to academic politics may lie in its (perhaps unintentional) facilitation of the neoliberal takeover of the university.”  Below is a 2nd round-up of responses. The 1st round-up can be seen here.

The Scandal of Digital Humanities by Brian Greenspan:

My apologies for a prolonged absence as we’ve built (and rebuilt) our new labs. With the renovations nearly complete, and with so many pixels glowing over recent charges by Daniel Allington, Sarah Brouillette and David Golumbia that digital humanities enable neoliberalism, I felt it time to take up this blog once again. The authors of this provocative piece take pains to explain that they’re talking about not all of digital humanities, but a specific variety stemming from a particular tradition of textual studies and humanities computing. As many online have already protested, their genealogy of DH omits a great many areas of inquiry that have contributed to the field’s variegated and contested formation, including history, classics, archaeology, hypertext and hypermedia studies, cybercultural studies, electronic literature studies, critical media studies, maker culture, game studies and platform studies, to name but a few.

Versions of Disciplinary History by Ted Underwood:

Accounts of the history of the humanities are being strongly shaped, right now, by stances for or against something called “digital humanities.” I have to admit I avoid the phrase when I can.  The desire to defend a coherent tradition called DH can also lead to models of intellectual history that I find bizarre. Sometimes, for instance, people trace all literary inquiry using computers back to Roberto Busa. That seems to me an oddly motivated genealogy: it would only make sense if you thought the physical computers themselves were very important. I tend to trace the things people are doing instead to Janice Radway, Roman Jakobson, Raymond Williams, or David Blei. On the other hand, we’ve recently seen that a desire to take a stand against digital humanities can lead to equally unpersuasive genealogies. I’m referring to a recent critique of digital humanities in LARB by Daniel Allington, Sarah Brouillette, and David Golumbia. 

Digital Humanities in Other Contexts by Roopika Risam:

Last night at Salem State, we capped off a productive year of ongoing work building a digital humanities community with our inaugural Digital Humanities Lecture delivered by Elizabeth Hopwood of Northeastern University. Hopwood covered a range of issues, from ethics to collaboration to labor to community. While talking about her work on the Early Caribbean Digital Archive, she offered an important proposition: students are radical contributors to digital scholarship.

Responding to *that* LARB Piece on DH (with Tweets)  by Paige Morgan:

Storified Twitter: I guess I ought to say, that piece is not *completely* w/o merit, though the more I look at it, the less I like it. It presents a distorted reflection of UVA’s role & primacy in DH. & sure, that primacy has interesting/complex effects that we shdnt ignore.