When I first came to Stanford University and I was expected to “do digital humanities” without quite knowing what that meant, I had the very good fortune to work with Martin Evans, a professor in the English Department and a Miltonist. While we never got around to representing the pan-chronology of Paradise Lost, we did manage to cobble together a small site, in Flash (remember, this was 2010, before Flash was evil) that presented people and places and texts linked together in a dynamic manner. If you’ve still got Flash installed, you can see Authorial London here.
Martin Evans died on Monday, February 11th, 2013. In my time working with him and since, he was always dynamic and incisive and ambitious. When I first started doing digital humanities professionally (I am a specialist, after all) I thought myself to be very much smarter than the folks who had neglected to learn how to code. Dr. Evans disabused me of this notion early on, and not through any kind of browbeating, but instead by simply demonstrating the kind of intellectual rigor and attention to detail it took to really understand the complexities of literature such as Lycidas.
In reading Martin’s obituaries, I’ve found him quoted as a staunch defender of the humanities. You would have to be as green as I was three years ago to think that such a defense would necessitate being an opponent of digital humanities.
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,
Compels me to disturb your season due: