Authorship and the Humanities

After attending the Humanities presentation Thursday, I made a few odd connections in my head between the discussion that ensued in the presentation and our discussion in class last Monday.

In class Monday, we discussed (in regards to the nature of authorship) the difficulty of identifying true authorship when a document was written by more than one author. How do you quantify participation in regards to recognition on a piece of scholarly writing? As Jason had pointed out in class, sometimes in a scholarly work a contributed is noted in the acknowledgments section, or something of the sort. However, in scholarship each individual is fighting for “dibbs” over ownership. Fitzpatrick points out that as scholars, we host a number of anxieties within ourselves, and highlights the notion of a “boundary” between one person’s ideas and the ideas of someone else.

I think a parallel can be made between this anxiety and certain anxieties felt within the humanities. One of the biggest concerns about the humanities that was brought up on Thursday was the notion of the humanities not functioning like a cohesive group due to the many different faculties that lie within the realm of “The Humanities”. As each faculty fights for its own levels of respect and recognition, a tendency for competition arises. This relates to our discussion on authorship, as we discover a desire for a kind of singularity in scholarly works.

The suggestion made in the Humanities presentation was to change the view of singularity within the faculties, as each faculty contributes to one another. This same notion was discussed in class, with regards to the peer editing process and the switch to digital publications such as blogs which could connect individuals and incorporate ideas in order to give strength to a piece of scholarship. We need to rethink the structure of authorship in the digital age to generate the most complete and coherent ideas possible.

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4 Responses to Authorship and the Humanities

  1. olivia.harris says:

    Emily brings up an interesting connection here that I think relates to some earlier posts about the ego involved in publishing academic writing. Much like the need for personal recognition in scholarly writing, the individual sections of humanities as a field also tend towards self-advancement through individual recognition. With our focus placed on the credibility of each person in the field rather than the success and dispersal of content in our writings, the humanities seems to become a field of competition and individuality rather than a cohesive unit of academics working together in their field. But maybe this is why funding is often given to science related faculties before the humanities, and perhaps why parents are less likely to support a child’s education and career in the humanities (something that was discussed in detail at the Humanities Panel). The field is too concerned with each individual attaining credibility that we forget to advocate for the field as a whole instead. This view might be too simplistic but I just want to encourage some consideration of how we see the ego developing in the future of the humanities.
    If you would like to hear more about the panel or if you want to read some highlights from the night, explore the Twitter tag that was especially popular for the event: #HumanitiesFuture

  2. kcadieux says:

    I agree with Olivia that our focus in the humanities can sometimes be too narrow with regards to attaining credibility and renown within the field. As Fitzpatrick points out, the accepted understanding of scholarly credibility with regards to published work is already quite limited.
    I really appreciated the panelists’ comments on cohesion and on changing the narrative of crisis in the humanities, but I would have liked to see the discussion take an even more practical direction. The panelists were calling for a shift in our focus, in the canon, and in the rhetoric that surrounds the humanities as a discipline. I’m still puzzling out what our first steps should be to make these changes.

  3. laura.chapnick says:

    I also think that Emily has made a very interesting parallel here. I wonder if a way to approach these two similar, yet, entirely separate issues would be to consider collaboration, as Miso brought up in response to Michelle’s post for this week. Collaborating in scholarly work could open up many different avenues for innovative scholarship. Applying this idea to the humanities, I think it is important to encourage interdisciplinary studies across departments. This too would help to both diversify and at the same time bring together various disciplines underneath the umbrella of humanities.

  4. Pingback: Digital Idealism, Social Regulation and Our Textual Heritage via Deegan & Sutherland | The Tales of John Oliver Hobbes

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