Arts of Living: Reinventing the Humanities for the by Kurt Spellmeyer

By Kurt Spellmeyer

Argues that greater schooling must abandon the "culture wars" if it hopes to handle the key crises of the century.

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Extra info for Arts of Living: Reinventing the Humanities for the Twenty-First Century

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The arts enact in a highly ritualized way an element of all Taking Humanities Out of the Box 23 human culture at its best: the movement out of the self and into the world, and out of the world and back into the self again. To many people in the humanities, this proposal might actually sound far more radical and threatening than the argument that humanists need to know more science. A great secret of the academic humanities has been their quiet but consistent exclusion of the arts as an activity, as a practice.

Anxieties about the possession of “culture” imply a very different sense of relations with others—relations that become more and more competitive, hierarchical, and socially isolating. On the one hand, the arrival of a new cosmopolitan knowledge made it possible to look critically at traditions formerly immune to change. ”42 The cultured person was the one who could recite a verse or two from Longfellow, and without that ability, Austin’s fellow men and women—people only a decade earlier Democracy Sets in the West 39 as good as anyone else—suddenly found themselves obliged to endure an unfamiliar sense of shame.

And we might ask about the experiences of illness and health as people actually live through them. Far from diminishing the humanities, a reform of this kind would open vast new horizons of research to those appropriately trained. At the same time, it would greatly broaden the exposure of ordinary citizens to the legacy of the older humanities as well as to the new scholarship. A. S. degree) fewer than 20 percent of undergraduates, and humanities majors account for fewer than 15 percent. At many universities, the figures for majors are even more dismal—sometimes as low as 5 percent.

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