Humanities, Culture, and Interdisciplinarity
The Changing American Academy
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: State University of New York Press
HUMANITIES, CULTURE, AND INTERDISCIPLINARITY
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I am grateful for the conversations and resources that nurtured this book. Barbara Ashbrook and the recently departed Enayet Rahim hosted me on several trips to the National Endowment for the Humanities, affording access to the Endowment’s library and in-house materials. Fred Schroeder of the University of Minnesota at Duluth supplied the entire backlist of the...
INTRODUCTION Humanities, Culture, and Interdisciplinarity
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This book investigates the relationship of three ideas in the American academy—humanities, culture, and interdisciplinarity. Of the three keywords,“humanities” and “culture” have a longer history. The English word “humanities” derives from an educational program introduced in ancient Rome under the heading of humanitas. The ancient Greeks did not speak...
1. FORMING HUMANITIES
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This story begins in 1636. When the first institution of higher education opened in this country, humanities played a central role. Harvard College was a Puritan-based institution with a prescribed curriculum based on the Bible, the classical trivium of language-oriented arts, and the quadrivium of mathematical or scientific arts. Students learned Greek, Aramaic, ...
2. CHANGING HUMANITIES
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Over the course of the twentieth century, higher education in the United States underwent a profound transformation. The numbers alone are staggering. In 1910, 355,000 students were enrolled. After World War II, the count rose to 2 million and by 2000 had reached 15.3 million. The institutional profile changed as well. In 1900, there were 977 postsecondary institutions ...
3. FORGING THEORY, PRACTICE, AND INSTITUTIONAL PRESENCE
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Any nomenclature, Kenneth Burke taught us, acts as a terministic screen that filters, directs, and redirects attention along some paths rather than others. Terminology is not only a reflection of reality. It is also a selection and a deflection. Much of what we take to be observations about reality may well be the playing out of possibilities implicit in our choice of terms...
4. REWRITING THE LITERARY
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The dominant trend in higher education for much of the twentieth century was the growth of specialization, but in the latter half of the century a historical reversal of this trend began (Gaff and Ratcliff, “Preface” xiv). Since the 1950s, many disciplines have become more porous and multi or interdisciplinary in character, to the point that Dölling and Hark now describe...
5. REFIGURING THE VISUAL
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The other disciplines in this set of case studies—art and music—have several features in common. They inherited a humanistic identity vested in creativity and the values of liberal education. They occupy a presence beyond the academy in performance venues, museums, and other cultural institutions. They are nonverbal media whose data are more resistant to verbal explication ...
6. RETUNING THE AURAL
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Someone once said that writing about music is as meaningless as dancing about architecture. Musical data resist verbal explication more than the data of other humanities, especially in the case of historical works that were never recorded (R. Parker 10). Music is not routinely included in national reports on the state of humanities either. When ...
7. RECONSTRUCTING AMERICAN STUDIES
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American studies is one of the oldest and, many argue, the most successful interdisciplinary fields in the United States. With the exception of isolated references, the term “American studies” did not appear much before 1920. The terms “American civilization” and “Americanist” were used more often. The institutional roots of the field lie in the 1920s and 1930s, when...
8. DEFINING OTHER AMERICAS
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Douglas Bennett calls identity fields a kind of “sacred edge” in the reopened battle over inclusion and exclusion (144). American studies was a staging ground for interests in race and gender. However, former President Mary Ellen Washington recalls, when the Radical Caucus of the American Studies Association (ASA) formed in 1969, African Americans were relatively invisible ...
CONCLUSION CRAFTING HUMANITIES FOR A NEW CENTURY
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Jerry Gaff likens scholarship to the molten mass of radioactive material that forms the core of the earth. Periodically, it erupts in a volcano or the tectonic plates shift, changing the shape of the earth’s crust. Inevitably, it also finds its way into the intellectual landscape of the constantly shifting curriculum (“Tensions” 701). The final chapter returns full circle to the...
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Page Count: 278
Publication Year: 2005