Emacs in the Humanities

I stumbled across a link to this post in the Emacs reddit and ignored it but curiosity go the better of me so I went back to it. Like most Irreal readers (I assume) the label nerd or geek can appropriately be applied to me so the question, “Is anybody using emacs in the humanities or divinity?” wouldn’t normally interest me. Except for the Emacs part.

In any event, I did follow the link and found a pretty interesting discussion from folks in the humanities on how they are using Emacs—and often AUCTeX and Org mode—for their work and writing. It’s a tribute to the power and usefulness of Emacs that people so far removed from the technical world that most of us live in nevertheless find it useful and worth the pain of learning it.

These folks deserve our admiration not only for taking the trouble to learn Emacs but also for enduring the friction it adds to their everyday work. Remember that Word stands supreme in the humanities and if you’re using Emacs you have to worry about converting your work to a form that your colleagues can read and work with. As for writing \LaTeX with Word: shudder.

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  • Kim Allamandola

    I'm not in humanities but I do know some (very few, but some) that use Emacs and often ask question about it in humanities. Sometime we speak about that end the general answer is: curiosity and the need of good instrument. It does not matter much how much time it take to learn something if there is a tangible benefit after.

    Nearly all of them know Emacs, LaTeX etc through friends and relatives, they see what does Emacs and LaTeX can do and ask how can they get it on their computers. Honestly a path not much different by vast majority of IT guys...

  • LyX is interesting because it is real LaTeX with a real nice interface and
    I’ve never met someone who uses it. It is either Emacs or MS Word and nothing
    else.

    • Derek Chen-Becker

      My co-authors and I wrote https://exploring.liftweb.net/ using LyX because I was the only one familiar with LaTeX. It was an absolute pleasure! Later we had to translate it into Word, which was the complete opposite of pleasure.