Scholars’ unconvincing case about the value of the humanities (essay)

A literary work is a powerful tool for simulating what it’s like to inhabit someone else’s life. Not just tolerating difference, or grudgingly giving “the other side” equal time; but generating real empathy for the diversity of humanity. There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – This Traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of Toll…

Shakespeare’s Genius Is Nonsense

Just as comedians generally don’t laugh at their own jokes, Shakespeare doesn’t call too much attention to his own linguistic cleverness, which is one reason his work rewards close scrutiny. It’s not that he was being deliberately obscure or flowery — though some of his obsequious characters definitely exhibit such speech patterns. One line of inquiry into Shakespeare’s language explores how the brain processes sequences of images. As a playwright…

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T.S. Eliot: “when we do not know enough, we tend always to substitute emotions for thoughts.”

I remember being fascinated with and challenged by The Waste Land in high school, though it wasn’t until I read some of Eliot’s essays in college that it all sunk in. The same man who could write such clear, sensible prose when he wanted to explain could also construct densely packed, layered, gnostic verse. What he wrote in 1921 about the difficulty of communicating outside our silos of expertise is…

Digital Humanities: A Definition

Does the world need another working definition of digital humanities? Do you have one? Here’s mine. Digital Humanities is the deliberate, critical application of emerging technology to the study of traditional subjects such as literature, art, philosophy, and language, often (but not always) with a focus on how those traditional fields are now using emerging technology. We are deliberate and critical when we foreground the study of our own digital…