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H Niyazi

Very interesting topic David!!

Without wading too deep into politics and the economic policy of a country I don't live in, speaking in a broader sense - I think the web(and associated technologies) as an educator will eventually unite people at many levels - from undergraduate to academic, and in an interdisciplinary sense.

There are people that are resistant quite simply because they do not understand it, do not like or want change, or enjoy a cushy or priveleged position that is suddenly under threat.

Governments respond to trends, they don't make them. There are worldwide metrics that show a decline in participation in these courses - and they follow suit. Pair this against attendance at galleries and interest in the arts on TV and the web(like blogs for example)- which are dramatically rising in many cases.

The forum for people to discover some types of knowledge is shifting, dare I say out of the classroom.

A career mapped course that includes some art historical training - eg. conservators, archaeolgical, curatorial etc. is how these subjects are going to survive.

For anything more ponderous or philosophical, I can not see why it shouldn't move to something web based and hence less of a burden on public infrastructure and the legislature.

The sciences went through this long ago, it seems the Humanities are at their time of reckoning. I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but as someone who experiences the realities of number crunching affecting health policy decisions, the way to ensure things gets done is to find a means of making do with what you have in a very practical sense.

Arguments based on moral or philosophical principals mean almost nothing to decision makers, that is one thing I can assure!

Kind Regards

Art History Today

Dear H,

I share your vision of an expanding web that provides a platform for the humanities in these testing times.

It's probably economics- not really the best reason- that's going to drive the humanities on-line. If the Browne report goes through, a lot of humanities departments are going to fold or re-constitute themselves- the web might play a part in that given its relative cheapness.

As for governments not making trends, I agree. The neo-liberalism which is the political basis of this undermining of welfarism, humanities education et al, was not invented by the ConDems, but is the continuation of a an economic trend that has been around since the 1980s. I deplore the idea of a two-tier web though.


Paula Humfrey


I admire your blog (I'm trotting off to follow some links as soon as post this, starting with 'Hogarth' and 'Joshua Reynolds').

Your thoughtful response to my article means a lot to me, and your analysis of the context in which it appears is very helpful. I'm in Canada, so I'm still working at understanding the knock-on effect of the Browne report.

It took me almost a decade to realize that my scholarly work can have just as much heft and reach as the work of tenured folks does. Now I feel strongly that I want to get the word out. We can indeed 'save' the humanities. Not that they inherently need saving, they're the most relevant thing going. I should say: I feel certain that the project of reestablishing their centrality in academic life will succeed. We can use the web to do this.


Art History Today


Thanks for that. Yes, I think people lower down the food chain have been sold the lie that their work isn't as valuable as those in comfortable positions. The web, and the whole on-line enlightenment project, gives us the opportunity to address that problem.

There's an interview with me coming up on H's blog soon. I do have certain things to say about the web and art history there.

I don't have much on Reynolds, Hogarth etc, though I have taught 18th century art. I did review a great book on fakes, forgery and 18th century art.

Best- David

Paula Humfrey


It's a pleasure to meet you. I very much look forward to reading the H interview.

Your phrase, 'online enlightenment project' is really powerful. I had to look it up to see if it was an existing meme. I believe the original credit goes to you.

I think it's a great way of characterizing the digital moment at hand, since "[t]he enlightenment project, especially in its liberal individualistic form, emphasizes the free choices and rights of the individual, but disregards the social and historical context in which actual individuals are embedded."

"Enlightenment project: The Blackwell Dictionary of Philosophy"

I have an ancillary question prompted by the discussion above. Does one in fact need a doctorate to participate in the new modes of scholarship that are coming up?

Hogarth and Defoe in tandem kind of obsess me (Reynolds not so much).


Art History Today


I'm flattered to know I've invented a meme. The phrase just came into my head from nowhere, though I guess I was thinking of a libertarian ethos. Online enlightenment project seems a good way to characterize individual thought in a setting free of historical and social ties. If the web isn't about the promotion of free-thinking then what's it about?

Re doctorate question, I think generally no- a Phd isn't necessary for engaging in scholarly activity online. But if you're researching on behalf of some university or grant-giving institution, then you would be expected to have one. I get the feeling that the humanities PhD will carry less weight in the post-Browne report educational landscape- the process of reducing them to commodities will continue.

BTW, I bought a copy of your Bandits guide. I agree with all you say, especially about the distinction between a business model of education uploaded to the web and a more scholarly non-profit model.

Best wishes,


Paula Humfrey

Over at THE, I just came across this snippet in one of Tara Brabazon's columns from last year. She highlights Warwick's deployment of podcasting as a good way going :

"There is a way to align public service, public relations and crisis management into a university marketing strategy that both incorporates academics and moderates the agitated acceleration of a Web 2.0 environment. The key decision in instigating this productive convergence is to choose a media platform that is appropriate to both academics and institutions’ marketing and public relations staff.

"I remain intrigued as to why so many universities in the UK underestimate the potential of podcasts and iTunes. Podcasting is a great opportunity in a Web 2.0 environment to shape a brand and spur debate. The University of Warwick and The Open University have produced extraordinary programming, including interviews with staff upon the release of new books and commentary on key topics in the news."

"Tara Brabazon: Academics must wise up to Web 2.0 marketing – and the answer is high-quality podcasts (THE, 26 August 2009)"


Art History Today

Yes. Warwick are one of the first universities to go with pod casts etc. I didn't know about the article. Thanks for that.

Smart history, an independent site, uses a lot of Web 2.0 and it's effective.


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Online lecturers with good minds offer a quality of scholarly independence that the university needs if it is to keep its degree programmes relevant in a digitally connected world.

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