The Humanities Computing Unit
Oxford University

Humanities AND computers? Some may flinch at the thought, but there is no doubt that the information technologies revolution has already permeated through society and the University canīt remain unaware when everything else is changing. Oxford University has been one of the first to respond to the challenge since the nineteen seventies. The Humanities Computing Unit of Oxford University is a well known and prestigious facility that provides support and advice in humanities computing to members of the University and beyond. They are engaged in national and international research ventures and have participated in the most interesting projects on this field being carried out in the UK.

I have been lucky enough to spend three months as a visiting researcher at the HCU this autumn, with Dr. Stuart Lee as my supervisor. Not only did I learn a lot about humanities computing, but also made good friends who kindly bore my daily inquisition with good grace. This report consists of a series of conversations with different researchers at the HCU, where they talk about the Unit, its history, their daily work, some current projects and humanities computing in general. I hope that the report helps to make their valuable work better known outside the UK, and also raises the subject of the necessity of similar initiatives in the Spanish universities.

Đ Text and interviews: Susana Pajares Tosca. March 2000.

The interviews:

Lou Burnard
Head of the Humanities Computing Unit
"I think we have to embrace the new technologies, and be able to recognize their potential for contributing to the things we care about most deeply, namely: the preservation of culture, the understanding of the texts and the generations of scholars who have studied those texts before us."
Stuart Lee
Head of the Centre for Humanities Computing
"The CHC is a place for the Arts lecturers to come to and use computers, and we also organize most of the training courses for the graduate students (introductory and subject specific)."
Michael Popham
Head of the Oxford Text Archive
"We archive texts for future generations of scholars. We encourage authors to make texts as freely available as possible for private research and teaching."
Sarah Porter
Coordinator of the Humanities Development Team
"We are a local service that develops IT-based teaching and research projects together with humanities academics within the University."
Michael Fraser
Head of Humbul / Deputy Director, CTI Centre
"CTI stands for Computers & Teaching Initiative. It's a long standing nationally-funded network of subject based centres. We cover humanities disciplines here: Linguistics, Classics, Philosophy, Theology, Film and Media Studies..."

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