A Quick Word

"In order to go on living one must try to escape the death involved in perfectionism." -Hannah Arendt (1906-1975)

26 January 2010

My spin.

Not that any of you (provided a "you" even exists) actually read the article that I posted in my last entry; however, here is my abbreviated opinion on it.

I resent the proclamation of "death" attributed to the Humanities for this reason: it shows an ignorance and apathy that reaches beyond the pathetic and into the ridiculous. Just because a particular thing is in the decline does not mean it is "dying." The idea of "death" implies a complete and definite end to the subject-- when a person is dying, it means that he or she is on the verge of ceasing to live. So, does this mean that the Humanities find themselves on the threshold of complete dissolution? Of course not. To say that the Humanities lie on the verge of ceasing to exist would be to say that thousands of years of history, literature, and philosophy are all completely irrelevant and hold no bearing on today's world. Could it be that, instead of "dying," the humanities have simply assumed a different place in society? Admittedly, we were never in the majority, and perhaps have now reached a point at which things begin to level out. It is important then that we adapt rather than throw our hands up and herald the passing of such a noble pursuit.

And that brings me to my second thought: we must once again make the Humanities a noble pursuit. From my experience at the U of I, not much has been done to establish the Humanities' place in a modern world. Little is made of the valuable skills that can be gained from studying the thoughts and lives of those who came before us. Instead of an asset, a liberal arts degree has come (at least in some circles) to mean a degree in the esoteric, something with no material benefit. We can not assume this notion if the Humanities are to remain in the university (particularly in public universities.) I'm growing tired of blaming things on the Morrill Act, the lack of funding, etc., when there are things to be done.

If nothing else, the Liberal Arts major learns something that is (apparently) not taught elsewhere in the university-- the ability to write in a manner that is clear, timeless, and jargon-free. Two days a week, my Latin class meets in one of the business buildings. Outside our classroom, there is a poster sponsored by the Marketing something-or-other that advertises a mentoring program for Marketing students. I'm going to take a picture of it and post it on here. The writing is so atrocious that it made me cringe. I hold the opinion that, until Business majors know how to write effectively and spell correctly, there will be a place for the humanities on campus, and that our relevance should not be contested.

1 comment:

  1. Cameron,

    The fate of the humanities (and of higher education generally) has been a hot topic of late around the UIUC blogosphere. You might want to check out