Farewell to the ‘Death of the Humanities’ Tagline

For a while now, rumors have swirled of the demise of the humanities — that area you study in college if you don’t want a good job, or so we think. Likewise, there are stories about the death of the death of humanities.

For the unlearned, the humanities is that area of study dealing expressly with human culture. Whether it is sociology, religion, or the classics — the law, history, and languages — the field is wide and expansive. It is easy to get lost in it, easy to ignore, and painful when we realize we have.

Indeed, the often-told joke — those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it — was modified to now say, “those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it; those who do know history are doomed to watch others repeat it.” For those of us in the humanities, we do have a little bit of fear that our society will forget us and in doing so, forget themselves.

There is a new start-up trying to bring new light to the field, however.

Joshua L. Mann, who I have had the pleasure of knowing for several years via our shared interest in blogging biblical studies, has launched his first kickstarter for his online magazine dedicated solely to the humanities.

Expositus exists to prosper a community of learners and experts, who advance our knowledge of the world, by providing blogs to scholars, web-based tools for research, and resources for learning. Expositus opens knowledge.

I asked Josh for a bit more. “Expositus.org is a website that provides blogs to scholars and tools for everyone. It is an attempt to bridge the gap between scholars and lay persons, scholarly research and the public that funds it. We help humans understand the humanities,” Mann told me.

But, they need money to get it off the ground. That is the biggest issue with humanities, I think — the cold, hard cash. While many see the easy returns in sports or technology, few see the benefits of investing in humanities. There are places that do, however, like Boston College and Humanities Tennessee. Yes, the humanities is a field that needs investing. It is not dead, it is not even on life support — it just needs to have some attention brought to it. Thanks to folks like Mann, that is happening from the ground level.

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4 Replies to “Farewell to the ‘Death of the Humanities’ Tagline”

  1. Liberal arts has been replaced by STEM (science, technology, engineering, [and] mathematics). The phenomenon is one of those periodic educational binges on which American education tend to indulge. It began in 1917 with the vocational education creating Smith-Hughes Act. It reemerged with the National Defense Education Act of 1958 that made a lot of little girls trade in their makeup kits for chemistry sets. For now, it’s back. Only under the new face is the same old farce.

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