The Limits of Modelling: Data Culture and the Humanities

  • Harvey Quamen University of Alberta


Willard McCarty’s Humanities Computing (2005) opens a dialogue about modelling in the humanities. I extend that conversation by complicating his version of the model and by looking at the limits of modelling to find out what it is not. I suggest that, unlike scientific models, humanist models cannot be separated from the mode of Humanism that produced them. I argue that databases are not always models and that the boundary between model and database helps us to understand the advantages and limitations of both. A renewed appreciation of database culture can help to move humanist scholarship in new directions.