…and both deserve to be shared, I think.

In this post, Undine writes:

The New York Times is wringing its hands over the decline in the humanities, and, as usual, Dean Dad nails the flaw in the argument, noting that the money quote, near the end of the piece, states that the number of humanities degrees has remained constant for the past ten years.

The real problem is that for much of the past decade, the culture isn’t listening to what the humanities have to teach. Let’s just take a few examples from English, American history, rhetoric, and philosophy, shall we?

And then goes on to cite a few examples. It’s worth reading, because it’s right. It’s not that the humanities have ceased to have anything to say, but that people have largely ceased to listen. Now, this comment, by Professor Zero:

d) The problem, though, seems to me to be that we aren’t really allowed to educate in the Humanities to any interesting degree. People don’t want us to be able or authorized to teach logic, only explore soft feelings and things like that. They think interpretation is just opinion, and that opinion is necessarily unfounded. They believe these things very deeply and cherish those beliefs. We need jobs and majors and are asked to cater to these beliefs. Result: we don’t get to actually teach or showcase what are in fact our strengths.

To which I can only agree. I’ve actually taught some basic logic in composition courses. Spending an hour discussing logical fallacies was not, shall we say, the most popular of exercises. But throw a few advertisements up on the board, and let them chat with one another about “visual rhetoric,” and they’ll leave class skipping. The papers won’t be any better, because no one writes papers using “visual rhetoric,” but everyone will be a little happier. Food for thought, there.

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