Why Study the Humanities?

There's a piece in the NY Times this morning about the crisis in the Humanities. Why study the Humanities? Because, without a nuanced access to your own language and history, you wind up talking like George W. Bush and Bobby Jindal. And when you have only limited access to your own language and history, you make bad policy decisions, like George W. Bush and Bobby Jindal. You become proudly inhumane. You will believe nonsense. Will the Humanities guarantee humane citizens and leaders? Of course not. There are plenty of examples of cultured monsters, which you would know if you studied the Humanities. What the Humanities do is give one an opportunity to stand apart from the monsters of history, to understand and even oppose them. The Humanities give us a chance. ________________________ Note: Here is a link to the speech Andrew refers to in his comment.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

1 thought on “Why Study the Humanities?”

  1. Your comments are like a brief version of Mark Danner’s article in the New York Review a couple years ago, in which he talked about why studying English is something to be proud of. I think it was a graduation speech to the English majors at Berkeley.

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