>>> !! REJECTING !! THE !! PREMISE !! <<<

<Smiling purple devil emoji>   <== yes that could definitely be done with actual HTML but I didn’t feel like it .. I’m in the mood to reject premises

I loved the debate we had last class about the question: “should humanities students learn to code?” It was so fun to hear everyone’s perspective on the question, especially because we were all forced into defending a position that was perhaps more extreme than our actual opinion on the topic might have been.  The debate helped me crystallize my actual opinion in regards to the question, though, so it also constituted a very helpful exercise. 

I fully agree with Evan Donahue’s article, which means that I reject the premise of the question  “should humanities students learn to code?”

Donahue’s article makes a few different points — one of them is that learning to code is not the only way a student of the “humanities” can engage with the “computer sciences”… for example, a student could learn about the logical aspects and big-picture ideas of computer science without ever learning a programming language.  During our class discussion, the group arguing that “humanities students should not have to learn to code” (I was part of this group) really emphasized this point.  This was our main argument.

But I think there’s actually something much broader which Donahue argues in his essay, and my group in class touched on it, but probably did not emphasize it as much as we could have. Donahue writes:

My goal in writing this, as a student of the computer sciences and the humanities in equal measure, is to point out that not only could the two areas usefully benefit from one another, as per Kirschenbaum’s essay, but furthermore that in many ways the two are working on exactly the same projects and the very idea that they are, a priori, separate and distinct bodies of knowledge may be the king hobgoblin of any attempts to create something that professes to be a digital humanities situated somewhere between the two.

“A “Hello World” Apart (why Humanities Students Should NOT Learn to Program).” HASTAC. Last modified May 28, 2010. https://www.hastac.org/blogs/evan-donahue/2010/05/28/hello-world-apart-why-humanities-students-should-not-learn-program.

Basically, Donahue is saying here that formulating the question “should humanities students learn to program,” as Kirschenbaum does, is counterproductive and actually undermines the goals of the Digital Humanities.  One goal of DH is to “create something… situated somewhere between the [computer sciences and humanities].”  By asking Kirschenbaum’s question we reinforce the separation of the “humanities” and “computer sciences” into two different fields, when in reality they share so many objectives.  Instead of working to make sure that every “humanities” student learns to code, we should work to break down the barriers that lead people to believe that these are two completely separate disciplines in the first place.

My coding experience:

I took CS 111 last term, and we learned some basic concepts of computer science and then focused a bunch on how you can use Python to write code.  This experience was pretty helpful, but the class moved so quickly and I feel like I didn’t really absorb most of the knowledge being thrown my way.  However, I like that I developed a familiarity with CS concepts from the class.  Doing the tutorials about HTML and CSS just now was much easier because I had a nicer, non-default text editor installed on my computer and I knew how to use it, etc, so things didn’t feel so foreign.  The world of CS is very fascinating and I’m glad I took the class.

Some code which I believe supports my position:

alt="Inpsirational quote about rejecting conformity and the soceity because it tells you how to think and act without us thinking for ourslevs. Every person needs to think their own thought which they should communicate and use to undo the system that controls hearts and minds. #rebellionistheonlythingthatkeepsyoualive #rejectkirschenbaum #csequalshumanities">

This code displays:

Rebell | Rebellion, Life quotes, Inspirational quotes



  1. I very much agree on the lack of absorption and understanding that comes from a couple of CS courses. It takes hours of commitment to coding and CS in order for it to be useful in self creation of a project(Though I love that you have enjoyed using these skills you’ve gotten in HTML/CSS). Instead, the client/collaborator should have the chance to put more of their energy towards the information side of a project.

  2. Actually, maybe you are right… If we didn’t know how to code, we wouldn’t have the problem of reading a blog post with orange text.

    • Hi Henry, thanks for your insightful comment. It’s a bit suspicious coming from a person with orange hair but I will happily overlook this fact. Anyways, glad to hear you agree with the blog post!

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