Stanley Fish is one of those humanities superstars that American academia has a few of. Harold Bloom is another. Fish has his own column in the New York Times – only, as he admitted the other day, it’s not so much a column as a blog.
The past couple of blog entries that Fish has given his readers concern Digital Humanities. Having looked over the program for the next Modern Language Association (MLA) meeting (which would take place in early January 2012) for new trends in the humanities, Fish wrote in late December, for example, that one new trend seemed to be DH:
But if there is to be hope, there must be a path it can travel; and if there is to be redemption, there must be a redeemer. Who or what shall it be? Again, according to the program, it can only be one thing — the digital humanities, which does make an appearance in some of the panels that pose the question of the profession’s health and survival.
What exactly this DH is, Fish then discussed in another blog – the one already referred to. It opens in this way:
This is a blog. There, I’ve said it. I have been resisting saying it — I have always referred to this space as a “column” — not only because “blog” is an ugly word (as are clog, smog and slog), but because blogs are provisional, ephemeral, interactive, communal, available to challenge, interruption and interpolation, and not meant to last; whereas in a professional life now going into its 50th year I have been building arguments that are intended to be decisive, comprehensive, monumental, definitive and, most important, all mine.
And here, in a very few sentences, Fish succeeds in saying something important about what blogging does to the discipline of humanities writing. For his views on whether or not DH offers new and better ways to realize traditional humanities goals or completely changes our understanding of what a humanities goal (and work in the humanities) might be, we shall have to wait for a third blog, Fish tells us. I look forward to this third blog – hoping that Fish may be able to come up with an interesting answer to one of the most crucial questions concerning DH.