Skip to main content

Have the Humanities Always Been Digital? For an Understanding of the ‘Digital Humanities’ in the Context of Originary Technicity

  • Chapter

Abstract

This chapter is situated at the margins of what has become known as ‘digital humanities’, that is, a discipline that applies computational methods of investigation to literary texts. Its aim is to suggest a new, somewhat different take on the relationship between the humanities and digitality by putting forward the following proposition: if the digital humanities encompass the study of software, writing and code, then they need to critically investigate the role of digitality in constituting the very concepts of the ‘humanities’ and the human.In other words, I want to suggest that a deep understanding of the mutual coconstitution of technology and the human is needed as an essential part of any work undertaken within the digital humanities. I will draw on the concept of ‘originary technicity’ (Stiegler 1998, 2009; Derrida 1976, 1994; Beardsworth 1995, 1996) and on my own recent research into software as a form of writing –research that can be considered part of the (also emerging) field of Software Studies/Code Studies – to demonstrate how a deconstructive reading of software and code can shed light on the mutual co-constitution of the digital and the human. I will also investigate what consequences such a reading can have –not just for the ‘humanities’ and for media and cultural studies but also for the very concept of disciplinarity.

Keywords

  • Software Engineering
  • Cultural Study
  • Conceptual System
  • Digital Medium
  • Literary Text

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1057/9780230371934_9
  • Chapter length: 11 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   119.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-0-230-37193-4
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   179.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  • Beardsworth, R. (1995), ‘From a Genealogy of Matter to a Politics of Memory: Stiegler’s Thinking of Technics’, Tekhnema 2: non-pag. http://tekhnema.free.fr/2Beardsworth.htm.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beardsworth, R. (1996), Derrida and the Political (New York: Routledge).

    Google Scholar 

  • Brooks, F. P. (1995), The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, 20th Anniversary Edition. (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley).

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark, T. (2000), ‘Deconstruction and Technology’, in N. Royle (ed.), Deconstructions: A User’s Guide (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 238–57). \

    Google Scholar 

  • Derrida, J. (1976), Of Grammatology (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Derrida, J. (1980), ‘Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences’, in Writing and Difference, (London: Routledge, 278–94).

    Google Scholar 

  • Derrida, J. (1985), ‘Letter to a Japanese Friend’, in R. Bernasconi & D. Wood (eds), Derrida and Différance (Warwick: Parousia Press: 1–5).

    Google Scholar 

  • Derrida, J. (1987), The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Derrida, J. (1994), Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International (New York and London: Routledge).

    Google Scholar 

  • Derrida, J. (1996), Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • DuGay, P., et al. (1997), Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman (London: Sage/The Open University).

    Google Scholar 

  • Frabetti, F. (2009), ‘Does It Work? The Unforeseeable Consequences of Quasi-Failing Technology’, ‘Creative Media’, Culture Machine, E-journal, Special issue, vol. 11.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fuller, M. (2003), Behind the Blip: Essays on the Culture of Software (New York: Autonomedia).

    Google Scholar 

  • Galloway, A. (2004), Protocol: How Control Exists after Decentralization (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Hall, G. (2002), Culture in Bits: The Monstrous Future of Theory (London and New York: Continuum).

    Google Scholar 

  • Hall, S. (ed.) (1997), Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices (London: Sage/The Open University).

    Google Scholar 

  • Hayles, K. N. (2005), My Mother Was a Computer: Digital Subjects and Literary Texts (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Humphrey, W. (1989), Managing the Software Process (Harlow: Addison-Wesley).

    Google Scholar 

  • Kittler, F. A. (1995), ‘There Is No Software’, CTheory: non-pag. http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=74.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lister, M., et al. (2003), New Media: A Critical Introduction (London and New York: Routledge).

    Google Scholar 

  • Mackenzie, A. (2003), ‘The Problem of Computer Code: Leviathan or Common Power?’, non-pag. http://www.lancs.ac.uk/staff/mackenza/papers/code-leviathan.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  • Manovich, L. (2008), Software Takes Command. http://lab.softwarestudies.com/2008/11/ softbook.html.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marino, M. (2010), ‘Disrupting Heteronormative Codes: When Cylons in Slash Goggles Ogle Anna Kournikova’, DAC 09, Talk/Oral Presentation, Refereed Paper, UC Irvine, CA, DAC, 2009–2010

    Google Scholar 

  • Sommerville, I. (1995), Software Engineering (Harlow: Addison-Wesley).

    Google Scholar 

  • Stiegler, B. (1998), Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Stiegler, B. (2009), Technics and Time, 2: Disorientation (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press).

    Google Scholar 

  • Williams, R. (1961), The Long Revolution (Harmondsworth: Penguin).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Copyright information

© 2012 Federica Frabetti

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Frabetti, F. (2012). Have the Humanities Always Been Digital? For an Understanding of the ‘Digital Humanities’ in the Context of Originary Technicity. In: Berry, D.M. (eds) Understanding Digital Humanities. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230371934_9

Download citation