Friday, July 18, 2008

The Humanities

The Summer 2008 issue of The Wilson Quarterly has an excellent article by Wilfred M. McClay, "the Burden of the Humanities"

Mr. McClay brings some excellent and piercing perspective on the Humanities as they are currently being taught in our universities, and how they are perceived by the general public, and why.

Strange, that an era so pleased with its superficially freewheeling and antinomian qualities is actually so distrustful of the literary imagination, so intent upon making its productions conform to predetermined criteria. Meanwhile, the genuine, unfeigned love of literature is most faithfully represented not in the universities but among the intelligent readers and devoted secondary-school teachers scattered across the land.

Mr. McClay points out how identity politics has eviscerated the meaning of the Arts and Humanities and he goes on to show why we should care about this at all. He shows that the Humanities can and should remind us "that the ancients knew things about humankind that modernity has failed to repeal," a reminder more important today, as some aim to move us into a post-human world.

Go have a good read.

(image "Landscape" 1994, by Mark Tansey, used as the title illustration in the original article)

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