Bianco: “This Digital Humanities Which Is Not One.”

Bianco, Jamie “Skye.” “This Digital Humanities Which Is Not One.” Debates in the Digital Humanities. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012. Web.

Key Words
Critique
Creative construction
Ethics
Methods

Summary
Bianco troubles the notion of the Digital Humanities as methodological in nature. The DH tendency away from critical discourse leads to a dearth within which a conspicuous lack of gaze is settled upon the social, political, or cultural. While sympathetic to the Latourian notion that critique has run out of steam, Bianco nonetheless calls for an ethical turn in the DH explicitly, and a critical turn less explicitly, especially insofar as a critical turn would focus on the politics of methodology, digital tools, code and other DH phenomena as “socially neutral or benevolent, and theoretically and politically transparent.” Bianco is wary of a return to kind of retro-humanism that preceded the critical, ethical, and methodical diversity and expansion ushered in by cultural studies and critical theory. Bianco turns to Latour and Sedgwick to build a case for creative construction and turn away from creative destruction as practiced by critical theory. In particular, Bianco examines the difference between frameworks of veils/veiling/unveiling and frameworks of digital/codified/networked layers that may be more pressing as objects of study in a world in which “we live exposed.” Bianco finishes with a call to move away from “the practices and logic of unifying standards and instrumentality, as well as rationalizing and consolidating genres—for genres, like academic disciplines, are not immanent.”

Key Quotes
“Does the digital humanities need an ethology or an ethical turn? Simply put, yes.”

“It’s been a long time since I’ve quoted a feminist like a sledgehammer, but something about the new, posttheoretical humanities, the digital humanities, smells a bit like its self- (and other-) enlightened, progress-driven, classifying, rationalizing, and disciplining (grand)father.”

“New methods, tools, technics, and approaches—Moretti’s “distant reading,” for example—have been welcome evolutions with provocative expository and critical value, but these additions to the humanities need not mean distant ethics and a severing off of critique and cultural studies. … This is not a moment to abdicate the political, social, cultural, and philosophical, but rather one for an open discussion of their inclusion in the ethology and methods of the digital humanities.”

“We live exposed. Might we begin to experiment with ways to shift or move out of the utopian ideal of unveiling the already unveiled, executed through acts of destructive creation, to take up the troubling of affective disjuncture between what is felt and what is real and to move from interrogative readings to interactive, critical ‘reuse’ compositions through what Latour terms a ‘progressivism’ that is predicated on immanence and upon what I would argue are nontrivially changed material conditions?”

Further Reading
Latour, “An Attempt at a ‘Compositionist Manifesto.’” 2010
Sedgwick, Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity. 2002
Ranciere, The Politics of Aesthetics. 2004

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