Taking as self-evident that the “dark side” under discussion is a discursive construct of the digital humanities rather than “actually existing projects” (a clarifying phrase taken from Rita Raley’s post-mla comments), this essay suggests that the construct is too often indulged at the expense of dedicated critiques of digital humanities’ projects, as well as its papers, publications, syllabi, and so forth. We inhabit the construct when we forego these normative products of academic labor in favor of the terrible things in the title of this article, things that are said nearly daily on blogs, lists, and Twitter: Digital humanities is a nest of big data ideologues. Like Johnny, digital humanities won’t read. Digital humanities doesn’t do theory. Digital humanities never historicizes. Digital humanities doesn’t do race, class, gender, or, for that matter, culture. Digital humanities is complicit. Digital humanities is a neoliberalist contrivance for dismantling the professoriate. Digital humanities is the academic import of Silicon Valley solutionism. Perhaps most damning of all: digital humanities is something separate from the rest of the humanities, and—this is the real secret—digital humanities wants it that way. Yet the zero-sum agon of the construct seems itself complicit in a worldview that is neoliberal, ahistorical, and unconcerned with the materialities of contemporary scholarly production. Sometimes, and not incidentally, the construct can even resemble the virtualized Kung Fu arena of the Matrix that was called by the same name. This essay, the third of what has become an unplanned trilogy, explains why.
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Matthew Kirschenbaum; What Is “Digital Humanities,” And Why Are They Saying Such Terrible Things About It?. differences 1 May 2014; 25 (1): 46–63. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-2419997
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