Scholarly arguments in non-text-based media

I’d like to meet with others who want to discuss the publication end of digital humanities. I’m particularly interested in how scholarly argumentation can be represented in or strengthened by the use of non-text-based  media. What are the possible bearers of argumentation? How exactly does this work outside the traditional essay format? I’m an analytic philosopher who has done some work on the representation of (philosophical) arguments in film and I’m thinking that some of the analysis done in this context might also apply to questions such as:  Do articles in Vectors Journal offer arguments? Can a map mash-up offer an argument? Can a series of images offer an argument? Are there limitations to the sorts of arguments that non-text-based media can offer? Are non-text-based media better than the traditional essay at presenting certain types of arguments?

While a starting assumption of mine is that scholarly communication in the humanities involves at a minimum the presentation of arguments, perhaps this is also something that could be opened for discussion.

I have some ideas on reasonable answers to these questions based on the analogy with argumentation in film and on recent discussion at UCLA’s Mellon Seminar and DH09, but my thoughts haven’t gelled to the point that I feel comfortable saying “I want to present on this topic.” — So, anyone want to join me for a discussion?

4 Responses to “Scholarly arguments in non-text-based media”

  1. joguldi Says:

    yes please!! fwiw, i did some writing about ideas here:

  2. Alxjrvs Says:

    I would personally love to discuss this topic, and the overall issue of the weight of non-text-based media in an academic setting – I.e., from my experience, the “Paper” is the only thing that has weight someplaces. A video highlighting the argument at hand is nothing more than flashing lights. This could also come from the lack of a vocabulary regarding Non-text: do some just not know how to deal with supercool free youtube videos?

    Looking forward to it!

  3. john theibault Says:


    I’m glad I met you at DH09 and now regret that we didn’t even get on to this topic in our brief conversation. Alas, I’m not at ThatCamp. This topic interests me a great deal. I’d be interested to know who you spoke with about this at DH09. Two people who expressed interest to me in the topic at DH were Elli Mylonas of Brown’s STG and Josh Sternberg of UCLA. I used the word “digital monograph” with Elli, but I think we mean something similar — how can one assemble a chain of reasoning without relying on text to be the main links of the chain. One obvious difference between film and the web, though, is that the user decides how to follow the chain on the web, while the director does in a film. In fact, film seems even less flexible from the users stand point than print, where lots of people use the index to find just the passage they want, skipping over the intervening steps that create the argument.

    I’ll be in touch when you get back to California.


  4. barbarahui Says:

    I’d love to discuss this also–count me in! Why is it so hard to find non-text-based examples of humanities argumentation? Is it because the tools to do it don’t exist, or is it because non-text platforms/environments are anathema to this kind of argumentation? I think I missed the UCLA DH session you mention, so I’m eager to hear more. You pose great questions!