Kathleen Fitzpatrick on 9/24

Many of us were there for the first in this year’s series of Digital Humanities talks yesterday, but as a recap and perhaps a spur to further conversations about what we want St. John’s contributions to DH to be, I thought I’d post just a few snippets from Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s talk yesterday. (For more on her, see her blog or her twitter feed, @kfitz).

My favorite sentence in her talk came right at the end, when she described her Dean at Pomona telling her what he was hoping to see in her next big project after she’d been awarded tenure: “Startle me.” That’s what we all want to see in academic projects, our own as well as those of our colleagues and students.

I also copied down a list of her proposed conclusions about living and writing in a digital environment:

1. Move our emphasis from product to process.

2. Shift from individual to collaborative authorship.

3. Also from originality to remix.

4. Transition from a property system to a gift economy, in which we are “giving it away.”


I’d enjoy talking more about what might follow from any or all of those propositions.

My own sense, as my question yesterday suggested, is that we’re in a mixed literary ecology right now and are likely to stay in one, with print and digital forms in messy¬†coexistence¬†and collaboration. So I don’t believe that brave new technologies will displace print authorship entirely, but they are certainly a meaningful part of all of our intellectual lives.

About Steve Mentz 711 Articles
I teach Shakespeare and the blue humanities at St. John's in New York City.

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