Glen Worthey (Stanford University) has posted a written version of his talk from last year’s ALA Annual conference in Chicago, “Literary texts and the library in the digital age, or, How library DH is made.” As part of a panel on new roles for European and American Studies librarians in digital literary scholarship, Worthey touches on current threads of library debate surrounding the digital humanities — with generous praise for contributors to dh+lib’s ebook, Make It New (thanks, Glen!), among others.
The talk draws parallels between Russian Formalists of the 1920s and digital humanists of today:
In approaching the literary text, we focus on “how it’s made” – how literary history, genre systems, narrative lines, character networks, and even language itself are “made.” Like the Russian Formalists, we in the textual digital humanities focus on “The Word as Such” (to use the title of a manifesto by two poets who were close comrades to the Formalists, Aleksei Kruchenykh and Velimir Khlebnikov); the advantage we claim in a particular digital approach is that we can do that at scale: our focus can be telescopic. But the object in view is very much the same as that of our predecessors.
Worthey goes on to assert that:
[W]e in the library should make long-term, structural commitments to digital humanities work, rather than relying on short-term hires or crudely tacking on new job responsibilities to those of already-busy librarians.