Humanities

Humanities are academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with divinity and referred to what is now called classics, the main area of secular study in universities at the time. Today, the humanities are more frequently contrasted with natural, and sometimes social, sciences as well as professional training.[1]

The humanities use methods that are primarily critical, or speculative, and have a significant historical element[2]—as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences,[2] yet, unlike the sciences, it has no central discipline.[3] The humanities include ancient and modern languages, literature, philosophy, history, human geography, law, politics, religion,[4] and art.

Scholars in the humanities are "humanity scholars" or humanists.[5] The term "humanist" also describes the philosophical position of humanism, which some "antihumanist" scholars in the humanities reject. The Renaissance scholars and artists were also called humanists. Some secondary schools offer humanities classes usually consisting of literature, global studies and art.

Human disciplines like history and cultural anthropology study subject matters that the manipulative experimental method does not apply to—and instead mainly use the comparative method[6] and comparative research.

Head Platon Glyptothek Munich 548
The philosopher Plato – Roman copy of a work by Silanion for the Academia in Athens (c. 370 BC)

Fields

Anthropology

Anthropology is the holistic "science of humans", a science of the totality of human existence. The discipline deals with the integration of different aspects of the social sciences, humanities and human biology. In the twentieth century, academic disciplines have often been institutionally divided into three broad domains. The natural sciences seek to derive general laws through reproducible and verifiable experiments. The humanities generally study local traditions, through their history, literature, music, and arts, with an emphasis on understanding particular individuals, events, or eras. The social sciences have generally attempted to develop scientific methods to understand social phenomena in a generalizable way, though usually with methods distinct from those of the natural sciences.

The anthropological social sciences often develop nuanced descriptions rather than the general laws derived in physics or chemistry, or they may explain individual cases through more general principles, as in many fields of psychology. Anthropology (like some fields of history) does not easily fit into one of these categories, and different branches of anthropology draw on one or more of these domains.[7] Within the United States, anthropology is divided into four sub-fields: archaeology, physical or biological anthropology, anthropological linguistics, and cultural anthropology. It is an area that is offered at most undergraduate institutions. The word anthropos (άνθρωπος) is from the Greek for "human being" or "person". Eric Wolf described sociocultural anthropology as "the most scientific of the humanities, and the most humanistic of the sciences".

The goal of anthropology is to provide a holistic account of humans and human nature. This means that, though anthropologists generally specialize in only one sub-field, they always keep in mind the biological, linguistic, historic and cultural aspects of any problem. Since anthropology arose as a science in Western societies that were complex and industrial, a major trend within anthropology has been a methodological drive to study peoples in societies with more simple social organization, sometimes called "primitive" in anthropological literature, but without any connotation of "inferior".[8] Today, anthropologists use terms such as "less complex" societies, or refer to specific modes of subsistence or production, such as "pastoralist" or "forager" or "horticulturalist", to discuss humans living in non-industrial, non-Western cultures, such people or folk (ethnos) remaining of great interest within anthropology.

The quest for holism leads most anthropologists to study a people in detail, using biogenetic, archaeological, and linguistic data alongside direct observation of contemporary customs.[9] In the 1990s and 2000s, calls for clarification of what constitutes a culture, of how an observer knows where his or her own culture ends and another begins, and other crucial topics in writing anthropology were heard. It is possible to view all human cultures as part of one large, evolving global culture. These dynamic relationships, between what can be observed on the ground, as opposed to what can be observed by compiling many local observations remain fundamental in any kind of anthropology, whether cultural, biological, linguistic or archaeological.[10]

Archaeology

Archaeology is the study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts, and cultural landscapes. Archaeology can be considered both a social science and a branch of the humanities.[11] It has various goals, which range from understanding culture history to reconstructing past lifeways to documenting and explaining changes in human societies through time.

Archaeology is thought of as a branch of anthropology in the United States,[12] while in Europe, it is viewed as a discipline in its own right, or grouped under other related disciplines such as history.

Classics

Homeros Caetani Louvre Ma440 n2
Bust of Homer, the most famous Greek poet

Classics, in the Western academic tradition, refers to the studies of the cultures of classical antiquity, namely Ancient Greek and Latin and the Ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Classical studies is considered one of the cornerstones of the humanities; however, its popularity declined during the 20th century. Nevertheless, the influence of classical ideas on many humanities disciplines, such as philosophy and literature, remains strong.

History

History is systematically collected information about the past. When used as the name of a field of study, history refers to the study and interpretation of the record of humans, societies, institutions, and any topic that has changed over time.

Traditionally, the study of history has been considered a part of the humanities. In modern academia, history is occasionally classified as a social science.

Linguistics and languages

While the scientific study of language is known as linguistics and is generally considered a social science,[13] a natural science[14] or a cognitive science,[15] the study of languages is still central to the humanities. A good deal of twentieth-century and twenty-first-century philosophy has been devoted to the analysis of language and to the question of whether, as Wittgenstein claimed, many of our philosophical confusions derive from the vocabulary we use; literary theory has explored the rhetorical, associative, and ordering features of language; and historical linguists have studied the development of languages across time. Literature, covering a variety of uses of language including prose forms (such as the novel), poetry and drama, also lies at the heart of the modern humanities curriculum. College-level programs in a foreign language usually include study of important works of the literature in that language, as well as the language itself.

Law and politics

Old Bailey Microcosm edited
A trial at a criminal court, the Old Bailey in London

In common parlance, law means a rule that (unlike a rule of ethics) is enforceable through institutions.[16] The study of law crosses the boundaries between the social sciences and humanities, depending on one's view of research into its objectives and effects. Law is not always enforceable, especially in the international relations context. It has been defined as a "system of rules",[17] as an "interpretive concept"[18] to achieve justice, as an "authority"[19] to mediate people's interests, and even as "the command of a sovereign, backed by the threat of a sanction".[20] However one likes to think of law, it is a completely central social institution. Legal policy incorporates the practical manifestation of thinking from almost every social science and discipline of the humanities. Laws are politics, because politicians create them. Law is philosophy, because moral and ethical persuasions shape their ideas. Law tells many of history's stories, because statutes, case law and codifications build up over time. And law is economics, because any rule about contract, tort, property law, labour law, company law and many more can have long-lasting effects on how productivity is organised and the distribution of wealth. The noun law derives from the late Old English lagu, meaning something laid down or fixed,[21] and the adjective legal comes from the Latin word LEX.[22]

Literature

First Folio
Shakespeare wrote some of the most acclaimed works in English literature.

Literature is a term that does not have a universally accepted definition, but which has variably included all written work; writing that possesses literary merit; and language that foregrounds literariness, as opposed to ordinary language. Etymologically the term derives from Latin literatura/litteratura "writing formed with letters", although some definitions include spoken or sung texts. Literature can be classified according to whether it is fiction or non-fiction, and whether it is poetry or prose; it can be further distinguished according to major forms such as the novel, short story or drama; and works are often categorised according to historical periods, or according to their adherence to certain aesthetic features or expectations (genre).

Philosophy

Kierkegaard
The works of Søren Kierkegaard overlap into many fields of the humanities, such as philosophy, literature, theology, music, and classical studies.

Philosophy—etymologically, the "love of wisdom"—is generally the study of problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, justification, truth, justice, right and wrong, beauty, validity, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing these issues by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on reasoned argument, rather than experiments (experimental philosophy being an exception).[23]

Philosophy used to be a very comprehensive term, including what have subsequently become separate disciplines, such as physics. (As Immanuel Kant noted, "Ancient Greek philosophy was divided into three sciences: physics, ethics, and logic.")[24] Today, the main fields of philosophy are logic, ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology. Still, it continues to overlap with other disciplines. The field of semantics, for example, brings philosophy into contact with linguistics.

Since the early twentieth century, philosophy in English-speaking universities has moved away from the humanities and closer to the formal sciences, becoming much more analytic. Analytic philosophy is marked by emphasis on the use of logic and formal methods of reasoning, conceptual analysis, and the use of symbolic and/or mathematical logic, as contrasted with the Continental style of philosophy.[25] This method of inquiry is largely indebted to the work of philosophers such as Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, G.E. Moore, and Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Religion

God the Geometer
The compass in this 13th-century manuscript is a symbol of God's act of creation.

New philosophies and religions arose in both east and west, particularly around the 6th century BC. Over time, a great variety of religions developed around the world, with Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism in India, Zoroastrianism in Persia being some of the earliest major faiths. In the east, three schools of thought were to dominate Chinese thinking until the modern day. These were Taoism, Legalism, and Confucianism. The Confucian tradition, which would attain predominance, looked not to the force of law, but to the power and example of tradition for political morality. In the west, the Greek philosophical tradition, represented by the works of Plato and Aristotle, was diffused throughout Europe and the Middle East by the conquests of Alexander of Macedon in the 4th century BC.

Abrahamic religions are those religions deriving from a common ancient tradition and traced by their adherents to Abraham (circa 1900 BCE), a patriarch whose life is narrated in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, where he is described as a prophet (Genesis 20:7), and in the Quran, where he also appears as a prophet. This forms a large group of related largely monotheistic religions, generally held to include Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and comprises over half of the world's religious adherents.

Performing arts

The performing arts differ from the visual arts in so far as the former uses the artist's own body, face, and presence as a medium, and the latter uses materials such as clay, metal, or paint, which can be molded or transformed to create some art object. Performing arts include acrobatics, busking, comedy, dance, film, magic, music, opera, juggling, marching arts, such as brass bands, and theatre.

Artists who participate in these arts in front of an audience are called performers, including actors, comedians, dancers, musicians, and singers. Performing arts are also supported by workers in related fields, such as songwriting and stagecraft. Performers often adapt their appearance, such as with costumes and stage makeup, etc. There is also a specialized form of fine art in which the artists perform their work live to an audience. This is called Performance art. Most performance art also involves some form of plastic art, perhaps in the creation of props. Dance was often referred to as a plastic art during the Modern dance era.

Musicology

Mozarteum grosser saal buehne mit orchester
Concert in the Mozarteum, Salzburg

Musicology as an academic discipline can take a number of different paths, including historical musicology, ethnomusicology and music theory. Undergraduate music majors generally take courses in all of these areas, while graduate students focus on a particular path. In the liberal arts tradition, musicology is also used to broaden skills of non-musicians by teaching skills such as concentration and listening.

Theatre

Theatre (or theater) (Greek "theatron", θέατρον) is the branch of the performing arts concerned with acting out stories in front of an audience using combinations of speech, gesture, music, dance, sound and spectacle — indeed any one or more elements of the other performing arts. In addition to the standard narrative dialogue style, theatre takes such forms as opera, ballet, mime, kabuki, classical Indian dance, Chinese opera, mummers' plays, and pantomime.

Dance

Dance (from Old French dancier, perhaps from Frankish) generally refers to human movement either used as a form of expression or presented in a social, spiritual or performance setting. Dance is also used to describe methods of non-verbal communication (see body language) between humans or animals (bee dance, mating dance), and motion in inanimate objects (the leaves danced in the wind). Choreography is the art of creating dances, and the person who does this is called a choreographer.

Definitions of what constitutes dance are dependent on social, cultural, aesthetic, artistic, and moral constraints and range from functional movement (such as Folk dance) to codified, virtuoso techniques such as ballet.

Visual arts

History of visual arts

Quatrain on Heavenly Mountain
Quatrain on Heavenly Mountain by Emperor Gaozong (1107–1187) of Song Dynasty; fan mounted as album leaf on silk, four columns in cursive script.

The great traditions in art have a foundation in the art of one of the ancient civilizations, such as Ancient Japan, Greece and Rome, China, India, Greater Nepal, Mesopotamia and Mesoamerica.

Ancient Greek art saw a veneration of the human physical form and the development of equivalent skills to show musculature, poise, beauty and anatomically correct proportions. Ancient Roman art depicted gods as idealized humans, shown with characteristic distinguishing features (e.g., Zeus' thunderbolt).

In Byzantine and Gothic art of the Middle Ages, the dominance of the church insisted on the expression of biblical and not material truths. The Renaissance saw the return to valuation of the material world, and this shift is reflected in art forms, which show the corporeality of the human body, and the three-dimensional reality of landscape.

Eastern art has generally worked in a style akin to Western medieval art, namely a concentration on surface patterning and local colour (meaning the plain colour of an object, such as basic red for a red robe, rather than the modulations of that colour brought about by light, shade and reflection). A characteristic of this style is that the local colour is often defined by an outline (a contemporary equivalent is the cartoon). This is evident in, for example, the art of India, Tibet and Japan.

Religious Islamic art forbids iconography, and expresses religious ideas through geometry instead. The physical and rational certainties depicted by the 19th-century Enlightenment were shattered not only by new discoveries of relativity by Einstein[26] and of unseen psychology by Freud,[27] but also by unprecedented technological development. Increasing global interaction during this time saw an equivalent influence of other cultures into Western art.

Media types

Drawing is a means of making a picture, using any of a wide variety of tools and techniques. It generally involves making marks on a surface by applying pressure from a tool, or moving a tool across a surface. Common tools are graphite pencils, pen and ink, inked brushes, wax color pencils, crayons, charcoals, pastels, and markers. Digital tools that simulate the effects of these are also used. The main techniques used in drawing are: line drawing, hatching, crosshatching, random hatching, scribbling, stippling, and blending. A computer aided designer who excels in technical drawing is referred to as a draftsman or draughtsman.

Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, from C2RMF retouched
Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, is one of the most recognizable artistic paintings in the world.

Painting taken literally is the practice of applying pigment suspended in a carrier (or medium) and a binding agent (a glue) to a surface (support) such as paper, canvas or a wall. However, when used in an artistic sense it means the use of this activity in combination with drawing, composition and other aesthetic considerations in order to manifest the expressive and conceptual intention of the practitioner. Painting is also used to express spiritual motifs and ideas; sites of this kind of painting range from artwork depicting mythological figures on pottery to The Sistine Chapel to the human body itself.

Colour is highly subjective, but has observable psychological effects, although these can differ from one culture to the next. Black is associated with mourning in the West, but elsewhere white may be. Some painters, theoreticians, writers and scientists, including Goethe, Kandinsky, Isaac Newton, have written their own colour theories. Moreover, the use of language is only a generalization for a colour equivalent. The word "red", for example, can cover a wide range of variations on the pure red of the spectrum. There is not a formalized register of different colours in the way that there is agreement on different notes in music, such as C or C# in music, although the Pantone system is widely used in the printing and design industry for this purpose.

Modern artists have extended the practice of painting considerably to include, for example, collage. This began with cubism and is not painting in strict sense. Some modern painters incorporate different materials such as sand, cement, straw or wood for their texture. Examples of this are the works of Jean Dubuffet or Anselm Kiefer. Modern and contemporary art has moved away from the historic value of craft in favour of concept; this has led some to say that painting, as a serious art form, is dead, although this has not deterred the majority of artists from continuing to practise it either as whole or part of their work.

Origin of the term

The word "humanities" is derived from the Renaissance Latin expression studia humanitatis, or "study of humanitas" (a classical Latin word meaning—in addition to "humanity"—"culture, refinement, education" and, specifically, an"education befitting a cultivated man"). In its usage in the early 15th century, the studia humanitatis was a course of studies that consisted of grammar, poetry, rhetoric, history, and moral philosophy, primarily derived from the study of Latin and Greek classics. The word humanitas also gave rise to the Renaissance Italian neologism umanisti, whence "humanist", "Renaissance humanism".[28]

History

In the West, the study of the humanities can be traced to ancient Greece, as the basis of a broad education for citizens.[29] During Roman times, the concept of the seven liberal arts evolved, involving grammar, rhetoric and logic (the trivium), along with arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music (the quadrivium).[30] These subjects formed the bulk of medieval education, with the emphasis being on the humanities as skills or "ways of doing".

A major shift occurred with the Renaissance humanism of the fifteenth century, when the humanities began to be regarded as subjects to study rather than practice, with a corresponding shift away from traditional fields into areas such as literature and history. In the 20th century, this view was in turn challenged by the postmodernist movement, which sought to redefine the humanities in more egalitarian terms suitable for a democratic society since the Greek and Roman societies in which the humanities originated were not at all democratic.[31] This was in keeping with the postmodernists' nuanced view of themselves as the culmination of history.

Today

Education and employment

For many decades, there has been a growing public perception that a humanities education inadequately prepares graduates for employment.[32] The common belief is that graduates from such programs face underemployment and incomes too low for a humanities education to be worth the investment.[33]

In fact, humanities graduates find employment in a wide variety of management and professional occupations. In Britain, for example, over 11,000 humanities majors found employment in the following occupations:

  • Education (25.8%)
  • Management (19.8%)
  • Media/Literature/Arts (11.4%)
  • Law (11.3%)
  • Finance (10.4%)
  • Civil service (5.8%)
  • Not-for-profit (5.2%)
  • Marketing (2.3%)
  • Medicine (1.7%)
  • Other (6.4%)[34]

Many humanities graduates finish university with no career goals in mind.[35][36] Consequently, many spend the first few years after graduation deciding what to do next, resulting in lower incomes at the start of their career; meanwhile, graduates from career-oriented programs experience more rapid entry into the labour market. However, usually within five years of graduation, humanities graduates find an occupation or career path that appeals to them.[37][38]

There is empirical evidence that graduates from humanities programs earn less than graduates from other university programs.[39][40][41] However, the empirical evidence also shows that humanities graduates still earn notably higher incomes than workers with no postsecondary education, and have job satisfaction levels comparable to their peers from other fields.[42] Humanities graduates also earn more as their careers progress; ten years after graduation, the income difference between humanities graduates and graduates from other university programs is no longer statistically significant.[35] Humanities graduates can earn even higher incomes if they obtain advanced or professional degrees.[43][44]

In the United States

The Humanities Indicators

The Humanities Indicators, unveiled in 2009 by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, are the first comprehensive compilation of data about the humanities in the United States, providing scholars, policymakers and the public with detailed information on humanities education from primary to higher education, the humanities workforce, humanities funding and research, and public humanities activities.[45][46] Modeled after the National Science Board's Science and Engineering Indicators, the Humanities Indicators are a source of reliable benchmarks to guide analysis of the state of the humanities in the United States.

If "The STEM Crisis Is a Myth",[47] statements about a "crisis" in the humanities are also misleading and ignore data of the sort collected by the Humanities Indicators.[48][49]

The Humanities in American Life

The 1980 United States Rockefeller Commission on the Humanities described the humanities in its report, The Humanities in American Life:

Through the humanities we reflect on the fundamental question: What does it mean to be human? The humanities offer clues but never a complete answer. They reveal how people have tried to make moral, spiritual, and intellectual sense of a world where irrationality, despair, loneliness, and death are as conspicuous as birth, friendship, hope, and reason.

As a major

In 1950, a little over 1 percent of 22-year-olds in the United States had earned a humanities degrees (defined as a degree in English, language, history, philosophy); in 2010, this had doubled to about 2 and a half percent.[50] In part, this is because there was an overall rise in the number of Americans who have any kind of college degree. (In 1940, 4.6 percent had a four-year degree; in 2016, 33.4 percent had one.)[51] As a percentage of the type of degrees awarded, however, the humanities seem to be declining. Harvard University provides one example. In 1954, 36 percent of Harvard undergraduates majored in the humanities, but in 2012, only 20 percent took that course of study.[52] Professor Benjamin Schmidt of Northeastern University has documented that between 1990 to 2008, degrees in English, history, foreign languages, and philosophy have decreased from 8 percent to just under 5 percent of all U.S. college degrees.[53]

In liberal arts education

The Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences 2013 report The Heart of the Matter supports the notion of a broad "liberal arts education", which includes study in disciplines from the natural sciences to the arts as well as the humanities.[54][55]

Many colleges provide such an education; some require it. The University of Chicago and Columbia University were among the first schools to require an extensive core curriculum in philosophy, literature, and the arts for all students.[56] Other colleges with nationally recognized, mandatory programs in the liberal arts are Fordham University, St. John's College, Saint Anselm College and Providence College. Prominent proponents of liberal arts in the United States have included Mortimer J. Adler[57] and E. D. Hirsch, Jr..

In the digital age

Researchers in the humanities have developed numerous large- and small-scale digital corpora, such as digitized collections of historical texts, along with the digital tools and methods to analyze them. Their aim is both to uncover new knowledge about corpora and to visualize research data in new and revealing ways. Much of this activity occurs in a field called the digital humanities.

STEM

Politicians in the United States currently espouse a need for increased funding of the STEM fields, science, technology, engineering, mathematics.[58] Federal funding represents a much smaller fraction of funding for humanities than other fields such as STEM or medicine.[59] The result was a decline of quality in both college and pre-college education in the humanities field.[59]

Former four-term Louisiana Governor, Edwin Edwards (D), has recently acknowledged the importance of the humanities. In a video address[60] to the academic conference,[61] Revolutions in Eighteenth-Century Sociability, Edwards said

Without the humanities to teach us how history has succeeded or failed in directing the fruits of technology and science to the betterment of our tribe of homo sapiens, without the humanities to teach us how to frame the discussion and to properly debate the uses-and the costs-of technology, without the humanities to teach us how to safely debate how to create a more just society with our fellow man and woman, technology and science would eventually default to the ownership of—and misuse by—the most influential, the most powerful, the most feared among us.[62]

In Europe

The value of the humanities debate

The contemporary debate in the field of critical university studies centers around the declining value of the humanities.[63][64] As in America, there is a perceived decline in interest within higher education policy in research that is qualitative and does not produce marketable products. This threat can be seen in a variety of forms across Europe, but much critical attention has been given to the field of research assessment in particular. For example, the UK [Research Excellence Framework] has been subject to criticism due to its assessment criteria from across the humanities, and indeed, the social sciences.[65] In particular, the notion of "impact" has generated significant debate.[66]

Philosophical history

Citizenship and self-reflection

Since the late 19th century, a central justification for the humanities has been that it aids and encourages self-reflection—a self-reflection that, in turn, helps develop personal consciousness or an active sense of civic duty.

Wilhelm Dilthey and Hans-Georg Gadamer centered the humanities' attempt to distinguish itself from the natural sciences in humankind's urge to understand its own experiences. This understanding, they claimed, ties like-minded people from similar cultural backgrounds together and provides a sense of cultural continuity with the philosophical past.[67]

Scholars in the late 20th and early 21st centuries extended that "narrative imagination"[68] to the ability to understand the records of lived experiences outside of one's own individual social and cultural context. Through that narrative imagination, it is claimed, humanities scholars and students develop a conscience more suited to the multicultural world we live in.[69] That conscience might take the form of a passive one that allows more effective self-reflection[70] or extend into active empathy that facilitates the dispensation of civic duties a responsible world citizen must engage in.[69] There is disagreement, however, on the level of influence humanities study can have on an individual and whether or not the understanding produced in humanistic enterprise can guarantee an "identifiable positive effect on people."[71]

Humanistic theories and practices

There are three major branches of knowledge: natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. Technology is the practical extension of the natural sciences, as politics is the extension of the social sciences. Similarly, the humanities have their own practical extension, sometimes called "transformative humanities" (transhumanities) or "culturonics" (Mikhail Epstein's term):

  • Nature – natural sciences – technology –  transformation of nature
  • Society – social sciences –  politics – transformation of society
  • Culture – human sciences – culturonics – transformation of culture[72]

Technology, politics and culturonics are designed to transform what their respective disciplines study: nature, society, and culture. The field of transformative humanities includes various practicies and technologies, for example, language planning, the construction of new languages, like Esperanto, and invention of new artistic and literary genres and movements in the genre of manifesto, like Romanticism, Symbolism, or Surrealism. Humanistic invention in the sphere of culture, as a practice complementary to scholarship, is an important aspect of the humanities.

Truth and meaning

The divide between humanistic study and natural sciences informs arguments of meaning in humanities as well. What distinguishes the humanities from the natural sciences is not a certain subject matter, but rather the mode of approach to any question. Humanities focuses on understanding meaning, purpose, and goals and furthers the appreciation of singular historical and social phenomena—an interpretive method of finding "truth"—rather than explaining the causality of events or uncovering the truth of the natural world.[73] Apart from its societal application, narrative imagination is an important tool in the (re)production of understood meaning in history, culture and literature.

Imagination, as part of the tool kit of artists or scholars, helps create meaning that invokes a response from an audience. Since a humanities scholar is always within the nexus of lived experiences, no "absolute" knowledge is theoretically possible; knowledge is instead a ceaseless procedure of inventing and reinventing the context a text is read in. Poststructuralism has problematized an approach to the humanistic study based on questions of meaning, intentionality, and authorship. In the wake of the death of the author proclaimed by Roland Barthes, various theoretical currents such as deconstruction and discourse analysis seek to expose the ideologies and rhetoric operative in producing both the purportedly meaningful objects and the hermeneutic subjects of humanistic study. This exposure has opened up the interpretive structures of the humanities to criticism humanities scholarship is "unscientific" and therefore unfit for inclusion in modern university curricula because of the very nature of its changing contextual meaning.

Pleasure, the pursuit of knowledge and scholarship

Some, like Stanley Fish, have claimed that the humanities can defend themselves best by refusing to make any claims of utility.[74] (Fish may well be thinking primarily of literary study, rather than history and philosophy.) Any attempt to justify the humanities in terms of outside benefits such as social usefulness (say increased productivity) or in terms of ennobling effects on the individual (such as greater wisdom or diminished prejudice) is ungrounded, according to Fish, and simply places impossible demands on the relevant academic departments. Furthermore, critical thinking, while arguably a result of humanistic training, can be acquired in other contexts.[75] And the humanities do not even provide any more the kind of social cachet (what sociologists sometimes call "cultural capital") that was helpful to succeed in Western society before the age of mass education following World War II.

Instead, scholars like Fish suggest that the humanities offer a unique kind of pleasure, a pleasure based on the common pursuit of knowledge (even if it is only disciplinary knowledge). Such pleasure contrasts with the increasing privatization of leisure and instant gratification characteristic of Western culture; it thus meets Jürgen Habermas' requirements for the disregard of social status and rational problematization of previously unquestioned areas necessary for an endeavor which takes place in the bourgeois public sphere. In this argument, then, only the academic pursuit of pleasure can provide a link between the private and the public realm in modern Western consumer society and strengthen that public sphere that, according to many theorists, is the foundation for modern democracy.

Others, like Mark Bauerlein, argue that professors in the humanities have increasingly abandoned proven methods of epistemology (I care only about the quality of your arguments, not your conclusions.) in favor of indoctrination (I care only about your conclusions, not the quality of your arguments.). The result is that professors and their students adhere rigidly to a limited set of viewpoints, and have little interest in, or understanding of, opposing viewpoints. Once they obtain this intellectual self-satisfaction, persistent lapses in learning, research, and evaluation are common.[76]

Romanticization and rejection

Implicit in many of these arguments supporting the humanities are the makings of arguments against public support of the humanities. Joseph Carroll asserts that we live in a changing world, a world where "cultural capital" is replaced with scientific literacy, and in which the romantic notion of a Renaissance humanities scholar is obsolete. Such arguments appeal to judgments and anxieties about the essential uselessness of the humanities, especially in an age when it is seemingly vitally important for scholars of literature, history and the arts to engage in "collaborative work with experimental scientists or even simply to make "intelligent use of the findings from empirical science."[77]

See also

References

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External links

American Academy of Arts and Sciences

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. It is devoted to the advancement and study of the key societal, scientific, and intellectual issues of the day.

Membership in the academy is achieved through a thorough petition, review, and election process and has been considered a high honor of scholarly and societal merit ever since the academy was founded during the American Revolution by John Adams, John Hancock, James Bowdoin, and others of their contemporaries who contributed prominently to the establishment of the new nation, its government, and the United States Constitution.Today the Academy is charged with a dual function: to elect to membership the finest minds and most influential leaders, drawn from science, scholarship, business, public affairs, and the arts, from each generation, and to conduct policy studies in response to the needs of society. Major Academy projects now have focused on higher education and research, humanities and cultural studies, scientific and technological advances, politics, population and the environment, and the welfare of children. Dædalus, the Academy's quarterly journal, is widely regarded as one of the world's leading intellectual journals.The Academy is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Arts and Humanities Research Council

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) was established in April 2005 as successor to the Arts and Humanities Research Board and is a British research council; non-departmental public body that provides approximately £102 million from the government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,350 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded.

Digital humanities

Digital humanities (DH) is an area of scholarly activity at the intersection of computing or digital technologies and the disciplines of the humanities. It includes the systematic use of digital resources in the humanities, as well as the reflection on their application. DH can be defined as new ways of doing scholarship that involve collaborative, transdisciplinary, and computationally engaged research, teaching, and publishing. It brings digital tools and methods to the study of the humanities with the recognition that the printed word is no longer the main medium for knowledge production and distribution.By producing and using new applications and techniques, DH makes new kinds of teaching and research possible, while at the same time studying and critiquing how these impact cultural heritage and digital culture. Thus, a distinctive feature of DH is its cultivation of a two-way relationship between the humanities and the digital: the field both employs technology in the pursuit of humanities research and subjects technology to humanistic questioning and interrogation, often simultaneously.

Environmental humanities

The environmental humanities (also ecological humanities) is an interdisciplinary area of research, drawing on the many environmental sub-disciplines that have emerged in the humanities over the past several decades (in particular environmental literature, environmental philosophy, environmental history and environmental anthropology). The environmental humanities aim to help bridge traditional divides between the sciences and the humanities, as well as between Western, Eastern and Indigenous ways of relating to the natural world and the place of humans within it.The ecological humanities are characterised by a connectivity ontology and a commitment to two fundamental axioms relating to the need to submit to ecological laws and to see humanity as part of a larger living system.

Essay

An essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author's own argument — but the definition is vague, overlapping with those of a paper, an article, a pamphlet, and a short story. Essays have traditionally been sub-classified as formal and informal. Formal essays are characterized by "serious purpose, dignity, logical organization, length," whereas the informal essay is characterized by "the personal element (self-revelation, individual tastes and experiences, confidential manner), humor, graceful style, rambling structure, unconventionality or novelty of theme," etc.Essays are commonly used as literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the author. Almost all modern essays are written in prose, but works in verse have been dubbed essays (e.g., Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism and An Essay on Man). While brevity usually defines an essay, voluminous works like John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Thomas Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population are counterexamples.

In some countries (e.g., the United States and Canada), essays have become a major part of formal education. Secondary students are taught structured essay formats to improve their writing skills; admission essays are often used by universities in selecting applicants, and in the humanities and social sciences essays are often used as a way of assessing the performance of students during final exams.

The concept of an "essay" has been extended to other media beyond writing. A film essay is a movie that often incorporates documentary filmmaking styles and focuses more on the evolution of a theme or idea. A photographic essay covers a topic with a linked series of photographs that may have accompanying text or captions.

Faculty (division)

A faculty is a division within a university or college comprising one subject area, or a number of related subject areas. In American usage such divisions are generally referred to as colleges (e.g., "college of arts and sciences") or schools (e.g., "school of business"), but may also mix terminology (e.g., Harvard University has a "faculty of arts and sciences" but a "law school").

Infobase Publishing

Infobase Publishing is an American publisher of reference book titles and textbooks geared towards the North American library, secondary school, and university-level curriculum markets. Infobase operates a number of prominent imprints, including Facts On File, Films for the Humanities & Sciences, Cambridge Educational, Chelsea House (which also serves as the imprint for the special collection series, "Bloom's Literary Criticism" under the direction of literary critic Harold Bloom), and Ferguson Publishing.

National Endowment for the Humanities

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency of the U.S. government, established by the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965 (Pub.L. 89–209), dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. The NEH is housed at 400 7th St SW, Washington, D.C. From 1979 to 2014, NEH was at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. in the Nancy Hanks Center at the Old Post Office.

Perseus Project

The Perseus Project (version 4 also known as "Perseus Hopper") is a digital library project of Tufts University, which is located in Medford and Somerville, near Boston, in the U.S. state of Massachusetts. The project assembles digital collections of humanities resources. It is hosted by the department of Classics. The project is mirrored by the Max Planck Society in Berlin, Germany, as well as by the University of Chicago.

Philosopher

A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy, which involves rational inquiry into areas that are outside either theology or science. The term "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek, φιλόσοφος (philosophos), meaning "lover of wisdom". The coining of the term has been attributed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras (6th century BC).In the classical sense, a philosopher was someone who lived according to a certain way of life, focusing on resolving existential questions about the human condition, and not someone who discourses upon theories or comments upon authors. Typically, these particular brands of philosophy are Hellenistic ones and those who most arduously commit themselves to this lifestyle may be considered philosophers. A philosopher is one who challenges what is thought to be common sense, doesn’t know when to stop asking questions, and reexamines the old ways of thought.In a modern sense, a philosopher is an intellectual who has contributed in one or more branches of philosophy, such as aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, social theory, and political philosophy. A philosopher may also be one who worked in the humanities or other sciences which have since split from philosophy proper over the centuries, such as the arts, history, economics, sociology, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, theology, and politics.

Royal Society of Canada

The Royal Society of Canada (RSC; French: Société royale du Canada), also known as the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada (French: Académies des arts, des lettres et des sciences du Canada), is the senior national, bilingual council of distinguished Canadian scholars, humanists, scientists and artists. The primary objective of the RSC is to promote learning and research in the arts, the humanities and the sciences. The RSC is Canada’s National Academy and exists to promote Canadian research and scholarly accomplishment in both official languages, to recognize academic and artistic excellence, and to advise governments, non-governmental organizations and Canadians on matters of public interest.

Social studies

In the United States education system, social studies is the integrated study of multiple fields of social science and the humanities, including history, geography, and political science. The term was first coined by American educators around the turn of the twentieth century as a catch-all for these subjects, as well as others which did not fit into the traditional models of lower education in the United States, such as philosophy and psychology.In 1912, the Bureau of Education (not to be confused with its successor agency, the United States Department of Education) was tasked by then Secretary of the Interior Franklin Knight Lane with completely restructuring the American education system for the twentieth century. In response, the Bureau of Education, together with the National Education Association, created the Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education. The Commission was made up of 16 committees (a 17th was established two years later, in 1916), each one tasked with the reform of a specific aspect of the American Education system. Notable among these was the Committee on Social Studies, which was created to consolidate and standardize various subjects which did not fit within normal school curricula into a new subject, to be called "the social studies."

The British Academy

The British Academy is the United Kingdom's national academy for the humanities and the social sciences.

It was established in 1902 and received its Royal Charter in the same year. It is now a fellowship of more than 1,000 leading scholars spanning all disciplines across the humanities and social sciences and a funding body for research projects across the United Kingdom. The academy is a self-governing and independent registered charity, based at 10–11 Carlton House Terrace in London.

The British Academy is funded with an annual grant from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). In 2014/15 the British Academy's total income was £33,100,000, including £27,000,000 from BIS. £32,900,000 was distributed during the year in research grants, awards and charitable activities.

Transparency (behavior)

Transparency, as used in science, engineering, business, the humanities and in other social contexts, is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed. Transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability.

Transparency is practiced in companies, organizations, administrations, and communities. For example, a cashier making change after a point of sale transaction by offering a record of the items purchased (e.g., a receipt) as well as counting out the customer's change on the counter demonstrates one type of transparency.

The term transparency has a very different meaning in information security where it is used to describe security mechanisms that are intentionally in-detectable or hidden from view. Examples include hiding utilities and tools which the user does not need to know in order to do their job, like keeping the remote re-authentication operations of Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol hidden from the user.

University of Chicago

The University of Chicago (UChicago, U of C, or Chicago) is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. The university is composed of an undergraduate college, various graduate programs and interdisciplinary committees organized into five academic research divisions and seven professional schools. Beyond the arts and sciences, Chicago is also well known for its professional schools, which include the Pritzker School of Medicine, the Booth School of Business, the Law School, the School of Social Service Administration, the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, the Divinity School and the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies. The university holds top-ten positions in various national and international rankings.University of Chicago scholars have played a major role in the development of many academic disciplines, including sociology, law, economics, literary criticism, religion and the behavioralism school of political science. Chicago's physics department and the Met Lab helped develop the world's first man-made, self-sustaining nuclear reaction (Chicago Pile-1) beneath the viewing stands of university's Stagg Field, a key part of the classified Manhattan Project effort of World War II. The university research efforts include administration of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory, as well as the Marine Biological Laboratory. The university is also home to the University of Chicago Press, the largest university press in the United States. With an estimated completion date of 2021, the Barack Obama Presidential Center will be housed at the university and include both the Obama presidential library and offices of the Obama Foundation.The University of Chicago has produced many prominent alumni, faculty members and researchers. As of 2018, 98 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with the university as professors, students, faculty, or staff, making it a university with one of the highest concentrations of Nobel laureates in the world. Similarly, 34 faculty members and 17 alumni have been awarded the MacArthur "Genius Grant". In addition, Chicago's alumni and faculty include 53 Rhodes Scholars, 25 Marshall Scholars, 9 Fields Medalists, 4 Turing Award Winners, 24 Pulitzer Prize winners, 20 National Humanities Medalists, 16 billionaire graduates and a plethora of members of the United States Congress and heads of state of countries all over the world.

University of Copenhagen

The University of Copenhagen (UCPH) (Danish: Københavns Universitet) is the oldest university and research institution in Denmark. Founded in 1479 as a studium generale, it is the second oldest institution for higher education in Scandinavia after Uppsala University (1477). The university has 23,473 undergraduate students, 17,398 postgraduate students, 2,968 doctoral students and over 9,000 employees. The university has four campuses located in and around Copenhagen, with the headquarters located in central Copenhagen. Most courses are taught in Danish; however, many courses are also offered in English and a few in German. The university has several thousands of foreign students, about half of whom come from Nordic countries.

The university is a member of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), along with University of Cambridge, Yale University, The Australian National University, and UC Berkeley, amongst others, and of the League of European Research Universities (LERU). The 2016 Academic Ranking of World Universities ranks the University of Copenhagen as the best university in Scandinavia and 30th in the world, the 2016-2017 Times Higher Education World University Rankings as 120th in the world, and the 2016-2017 QS World University Rankings as 68th in the world. As of October 2018, the university has had 39 Nobel laureates affiliated as alumni, faculty members and researchers, and has produced one Turing Award recipient.

University of Manchester

The University of Manchester is a public research university in Manchester, England, formed in 2004 by the merger of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and the Victoria University of Manchester. The University of Manchester is a red brick university, a product of the civic university movement of the late 19th century.

The main campus is south of Manchester city centre on Oxford Road. In 2016/17, the university had 40,490 students and 10,400 staff, making it the second largest university in the UK (out of 167 including the Open University), and the largest single-site university. The university had a consolidated income of £1 billion in 2017–18, of which £298.7 million was from research grants and contracts (6th place nationally behind Oxford, UCL, Cambridge, Imperial and Edinburgh). It has the fourth-largest endowment of any university in the UK, after the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburgh. It is a member of the worldwide Universities Research Association, the Russell Group of British research universities and the N8 Group. For 2018–19, the University of Manchester was ranked 29th in the world and 6th in the UK by QS World University Rankings. In 2017 it was ranked 38th in the world and 6th in the UK by Academic Ranking of World Universities, 55th in the world and 8th in the UK by Times Higher Education World University Rankings and 59th in the world by U.S. News and World Report. Manchester was ranked 15th in the UK amongst multi-faculty institutions for the quality (GPA) of its research and 5th for its Research Power in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.The university owns and operates major cultural assets such as the Manchester Museum, Whitworth Art Gallery, John Rylands Library and Jodrell Bank Observatory and its Grade I listed Lovell Telescope.The University of Manchester has 25 Nobel laureates among its past and present students and staff, the fourth-highest number of any single university in the United Kingdom. Four Nobel laureates are currently among its staff – more than any other British university.

University of Oslo

The University of Oslo (Norwegian: Universitetet i Oslo), until 1939 named the Royal Frederick University (Norwegian: Det Kongelige Frederiks Universitet), is the oldest university in Norway, located in the Norwegian capital of Oslo. Until 1 January 2016 it was the largest Norwegian institution of higher education in terms of size, now surpassed only by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The Academic Ranking of World Universities has ranked it the 58th best university in the world and the third best in the Nordic countries. In 2015, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked it the 135th best university in the world and the seventh best in the Nordics. While in its 2016, Top 200 Rankings of European universities, the Times Higher Education listed the University of Oslo at 63rd, making it the highest ranked Norwegian university.The university has approximately 27,700 students and employs around 6,000 people. Its faculties include (Lutheran) Theology (with the Lutheran Church of Norway having been Norway's state church since 1536), Law, Medicine, Humanities, Mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, Dentistry, and Education. The university's original neoclassical campus is located in the centre of Oslo; it is currently occupied by the Faculty of Law. Most of the university's other faculties are located at the newer Blindern campus in the suburban West End. The Faculty of Medicine is split between several university hospitals in the Oslo area.

The university was founded in 1811 and was modeled after the University of Copenhagen and the recently established University of Berlin. It was originally named for King Frederick VI of Denmark and Norway and received its current name in 1939. The university is informally also known as Universitetet ("the university"), having been the only university in Norway, until 1946 and was commonly referred to as "The Royal Frederick's" (Det Kgl. Frederiks), prior to the name change.

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in the university's Atrium, from 1947 to 1989, making it the only university in the world to be involved in awarding a Nobel Prize. Since 2003, the Abel Prize is awarded in the Atrium. Five researchers affiliated with the university have been Nobel laureates.

University of the Witwatersrand

The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, is a multi-campus South African public research university situated in the northern areas of central Johannesburg. It is more commonly known as Wits University or Wits ( or ). The university has its roots in the mining industry, as do Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand in general. Founded in 1896 as the South African School of Mines in Kimberley, it is the third oldest South African university in continuous operation.

The university has an enrolment of 38,353 students as of 2017, of which approximately 20 percent live on campus in the university's 22 residences. 65 percent of the university's total enrolment is for undergraduate study, with the remaining 35 percent being postgraduate.The 2017 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) places Wits University, with its overall score, as the highest ranked university in Africa. Wits was ranked as the top university in South Africa in the Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) in 2016. According to the CWUR rankings, Wits occupies this ranking position since 2014.

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