It’s OK to Call It ‘Digital Humanities’

I’ve been meaning to post something about William Pannapackers’s article “Stop Calling It ‘Digital Humanities’” for a couple of days, but my teaching schedule is stacked towards the beginning of the week, so it had to wait. Now that Rafael Alvarado’s response has appeared as an Editor’s Choice on Digital Humanities Now, I thought I’d set my fingers to typing.

Pannapacker laments the way that pedagogy has lagged behind research in the development of the Digital Humanities His main point seems to be that the identity of the Digital Humanities has developed so one-sidedly around research activity that it is difficulty to transfer to more teaching-oriented institutions, whether that means faculty lacking the resources to engage in Digital Humanities scholarship or faculty wishing to teach something called the Digital Humanities to their students.

Pannapacker is not advising us to give up.* Overall, his suggestions are helpful hints for how to overcome the barriers in certain kinds of institutions. But therein lies the problem. Pannapacker has primarily the small liberal arts college in mind, and he is unconsciously making the same mistake he critiques—proposing that the Digital Humanities be defined in terms of the mission of a particular type of institution.… Read more…

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What’s with the espresso?

Many of my students ask me why I drink those little cups of espresso. I’m told that there are debates going on outside the classroom. So I thought I’d produce some kind of public explanation to put the speculation to rest. So here it is.

Espresso is a term used only in English-speaking countries. It is short for caffè espresso: coffee made expressly (i.e. upon request). It is made expressly for you when you order it. In Italy, the idea of pre-brewing coffee is unheard of. So ordering a caffè in Italy will always get you what Americans call “espresso”. In other Mediterranean countries you may get something a little different, depending upon the technology used to produce the coffee. But it is generally made to order.

Why the small cup? It’s sometimes called a demitasse. That’s French for “half-cup”, but it’s a particularly Italian style of drinking coffee based on an invention by Luigi Bezzerra by Desiderio Pavoni at the beginning of the twentieth century. Jimmy Stamp at describes them as the “the Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs of espresso”. The process used pressure to force hot water through fairly finely ground coffee beans in order to brew quickly and dispense directly into the cup.… Read more…

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