Stewart, Graham Douglas James
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Humanities Computing is a new discipline unfamiliar to the South African literary community. This special number of Alternation is intended to bring some perspective to the practice of humanities computing in South Africa by publishing a divergent set of reflections and approaches to the introduction of computers into the contemporary study of literature, and in particular the study of South African literature. The papers in this issue may also be viewed against a backdrop of a curriculum for humanities computing. The wide range of approaches reflected by the contributors suggests that there is no such curriculum as yet in South Africa, but the quality and innovativeness of the articles represents a first attempt to find a coherent conceptual framework to accommodate a humanities computing research agenda and provide a springboard for further development. Because the field of humanities computing is as yet ill-defined, the articles in this edition are inevitably eclectic - indeed, the primary purpose of this edition is to range as widely as possible over an emerging discipline to identify focus areas and expose areas of contention and also future research directions. One dispute which emerges here is between enthusiastic converts to digital technologies and skeptics. The former tend to dwell on the benefits that the systematic exploitation of lCTs can offer the humanities, and the latter -who are more apprehensive about the contribution computers can make on the humanities--on its limitations and disadvantages.