Busa Award Lecture

July 18, 2013, 13:30 | Robert Busa Prize Lecture, Kimball Auditorium

Getting there from here: Remembering the future of digital humanities

In this talk I look back on a life of learning in digital humanities and on the past of literary computing. Personal retrospection yields a moral; another arises from my highly referential style of writing. But my overall aim is to pick out from the incunabular period (1949-1991) clues pointing to the trajectory of a discipline that has survived decades of neglect to become popular but is not yet able to articulate an agenda of as well as in the humanities. The Web and what we have made from it were sufficient for popularity. Many have been well served, are grateful and want to do more; others see opportunity to extend the reach of their native research. But beyond providing material for that which happens elsewhere by other means by other people we remain largely as we were before the Web. In this lecture I argue that the key to a scholarly life in digital humanities worth living has been visible all along, by taking seriously what happens where we stand: at the traumatic cross-roads of the humanities and computing.


Willard McCarty is Professor of Humanities Computing and Director of the Doctoral Programme in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London; Professor in the Digital Humanities Research Group, University of Western Sydney; and Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute (London). He is Editor of the British journal, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews (2008-) and founding Editor of the online seminar Humanist (1987-). He is recipient of the Canadian Award for Outstanding Achievement, Computing in the Arts and Humanities (2005), and the Richard W. Lyman Award, National Humanities Center (2006). He is currently at work on Machines of Demanding Grace, a book concerned with the interrelation of the humanities and computing. He lectures occasionally in Europe, North America, and Australia. See www.mccarty.org.uk.