Open Letter on the Fate of Cultural Studies in Poland

UCSB English Department letterhead/

January 1, 2018

Mr. Jaroslaw Gowin,
Minister of Science and Higher Education,
Republic of Poland

cc: Professor Tomasz Majewski, Chair,

Polish Association of Cultural Studies (Polskie Towarzystwo Kulturoznawcze)

Dear Minister Gowin:

I am writing in this open letter to add my voice to those of other international scholars concerned that a pending Polish Higher Education Ministry act will remove Cultural Studies from the list of registered scientific disciplines in Poland.
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Drafts for Against the Cultural Singularity (book in progress)

Citation: “Drafts for Against the Cultural Singularity (book in progress).” Alan Liu, 2 May 2016.

The following is draft work (notes and bibliography not included) from one of my books in progress tentatively titled Against the Cultural Singularity: Digital Humanities & Critical Infrastructure Studies. Excerpted are a few portions from the beginning of the manuscript that bear on the critical potential of the digital humanities and critique.
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“Where is Cultural Criticism in the Digital Humanities?”

Original full text of paper presented at the panel on “The History and Future of the Digital Humanities,” Modern Language Association convention, Los Angeles, 7 January 2011. (The paper was delivered in truncated, improvised form at the actual event due to time constraints.) An expanded version of this paper (full text) was later published under the same title in Debates in the Digital Humanities, ed. Matthew K. Gold (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012): 490-509.
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“Should We Link to the Unabomber? An Essay on Practical Web Ethics”

This is one of the earliest “blog” essays I wrote–so early that it preceded the era of blogs.

Citation: “Should We Link to the Unabomber? An Essay on Practical Web Ethics.” English Department, UC Santa Barbara, 9 October 1995.


Date: 9 October 1995

Background: The Emergence of the Unabomber Manifesto on the Net

Shortly after the publication of the Unabomber’s “Manifesto on Industrial Society and its Future” in the New York Times and Washington Post on Sept. 19, 1995, Time-Warner mounted the Manifesto on its Web server and made it available as a subpage (titled “Unabomber: Tightening the Net”) from its Pathfinder home page. The link to the full text of the Manifesto is accompanied on the “Tightening the Net” page by links to a variety of mainstream media stories and commentary as well as by updates on the FBI’s manhunt. Copies of the Manifesto have subsequently also appeared on other servers on the net.

The Issue: To Link or Not to Link From a Scholarly Research Page

The Manifesto, its context, and its reception are events of major interest to scholars in such fields as science-technology-and-culture, sociology, journalism, etc. This is all the more so because the distinctly academic style of argumentation and language in the Manifesto (which comes complete with the bomber’s endnotes) establishes an intense feedback loop or “reverb” with the academic institutions whose faculty and staff have been among the bomber’s favorite targets–and casualties.

Given the nature of the Manifesto’s original publication history, however (i.e., violently coerced), the ethics of participating to any degree in the further dissemination of the document is problematic. This is certainly the case if one were considering mounting a duplicate of the whole document on one’s server. But it is also the case, however attenuated and primarily symbolic, if one is merely considering creating a link to the document as it exists on someone else’s server.

In the broadest perspective, the Unabomber incident is a uniquely compelling test of the ethics of pure research. . . .