UCLA’s Manifesto for the Digital Humanities

Those folks at the Mellon Foundation are a busy lot. Apparently they have funded a [seminar at UCLA on the digital humanities][ucla]. The manifesto that the seminar has produced/is producing currently runs 20 paragraphs, with an additional 4 paragraphs that have “REMARKS ON THE FINITUDE OF DISCIPLINES.” They offer up a new departmental regime for the humanities:

* **Department of Print Media Studies**: Replacing literature departments, the purpose of this department is to study the materiality of texts, constructions of authorship, linguistic forms, the history of the book and book publication, antecedents to and descendents of print, as well as the relationships and tensions between print culture and digital culture.
* **Department of Discourse Analyses**: The purpose of this department is to study the history of the triangulation of knowledge/discourse/power, paying particular attention to discursive structures, knowledge making, and the specific media forms in which knowledge is produced, disseminated, encountered, and valued.
* **Department of Comparative Media Studies**: The purpose of this department is to study sonic, visual, tactile, and immersive media through a comparative framework. This department replaces the division of humanities departments by media form (departments of art history, musicology, film, etc).
* **Department of Digital Cultural Mapping**: The purpose of this department is to examine the junctions between space/time, information, and culture. It brings geographic analyses together with historical methods, visual analysis, and the presentation of knowledge. It also examines the cultural and social impact of digital mapping technologies and the significance of these mapping technologies for understanding cultural phenomena.
* **Department of Cultural Analytics**: The purpose of this department is to bring quantitative analyses from the math and sciences together with large-scale, complex social and cultural datasets.

As is usual with many of these humanities manifestos — it’s certainly present in some of the Project Bamboo discussions — there is interlarded in these various assumptions that the humanities only study in detail the realms of arts and literature. Ordinary humans seem consigned, in this particular matrix, to only be worth examining as part of a large dataset. So much for my own interests in material folk culture and folklife. Cultural anthropology, too, would seem to be outta here.

[ucla]: http://dev.cdh.ucla.edu/digitalhumanities/2008/12/15/digital-humanities-manifesto/

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