Digital? Environmental: Humanities

Authored by: Stéfan Sinclair , Stephanie Posthumus

The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities

Print publication date:  January  2017
Online publication date:  January  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138786745
eBook ISBN: 9781315766355
Adobe ISBN: 9781317660194

10.4324/9781315766355.ch36

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Abstract

We have deliberately chosen a title for this chapter that is at once understandable and defamiliarizing. If the words are relatively recognizable both individually and in combinations, the punctuation may seem a bit more arbitrary. Readers with some knowledge of computer programming may recognize this syntax as a ternary operator, a very compact way of formulating a conditional expression. Taken literally, at least by a computer, the title says something like “if digital is true then consider environmental, otherwise consider humanities.” Except perhaps to the most creative and poetic minds, this statement may seem nonsensical (what programmers might call syntactically valid and semantically garbage), but we keep it here as it has the merit of drawing attention to the atomistic parts and prompts us to reflect on the various logical relationships that might link them. To really understand (or invalidate) the formulation we presumably need a solid understanding of what is the digital, what is environmental, and what are the humanities, terms that are of course complex and contextual from the start, and only grow in complexity as they are combined.

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