Humanities Computing and Literary Studies

Humanities Computing and Literary Studies: A Brief Sketch

This paper aims at examining the emerging academic discipline called “humanities computing” particularly in regard to the literary studies that finds itself within a strange cultural environment of new media. The first part is a general survey of the origin and the subsequent developments of humanities computing beginning from Roberto Busa’s concordance ofThomas Aquinas, which is followed by a critical discussion of Willard McCathy’s definition. John Unsworth's theoretical explanation of humanities computing as an academic discipline is also examined. The second part is a full-scale discussion of the hypertext theory in regard to its enormous impact upon the topography of traditional literary studies. The theories of hypertext are critically examined particularly regarding its positive or negative effects on the traditional literary scholarship. Ted Nelson’s famous definition, James Bolter’s classic idea of hypertextual “writing space,” George Landow’s quick-witted summary of hypertext as a perfect embodimentof deconstructive textual theories are all discussed in detail. The conclusion is that the humanities computing’s contribution to the literary scholarship is real and substantial enough by any standard, but have not quite lived up to what some enthusiasts had claimed; humanities computing has been useful more as a technical assistance than as a whole new academic discipline so far. But humanities computing has done enough to present itself as the most feasible way available for humanities scholars to adapt themselves to the quickly evolving culture of information society.

Journal of English Studies in Korea 12(2007): 55-97


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