The Humanities and the Dynamics of Inclusion since World War II
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
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The academic humanities in the United States after World War II were a major institutional apparatus for bringing evidence and reasoning to domains where the rules of evidence are strongly contested and the power of reason often doubted. These domains, on the periphery of an increasingly science-centered academic enterprise, embraced the messy, risk-intensive issues left aside by the ...
Part 1: Academia and the Question of a Common Culture
1. Who’s Afraid of Marcel Proust? The Failure of General Education in the American University
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In his controversial Partisan Review essay of 1960, “Masscult and Midcult,” Dwight Macdonald delivered one of the last unqualified denunciations of American mass culture, reserving special scorn for the deformation called “middlebrow,” which Macdonald renamed “midcult.” Since the time of Macdonald’s essay, perhaps the high-water mark in the old tradition of Kul-...
2. Demography and Curriculum: The Humanities in American Higher Education from the 1950s through the 1980s
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The modern American university is a cognitive omnivore, feasting on all legitimate fields of knowledge. Different forms of knowledge, in fact, are more readily distinguished by their locus and organization outside universities than within. The humanities, however, find their principal home in university departments. This is not to say that the production and enjoyment of literature, ...
3. The Scholar and the World: Academic Humanists and General Readers in Postwar America
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Two scenarios currently dominate historical accounts of American literary and cultural criticism in the decades immediately following the Second World War. Taking off from the position Irving Howe articulated in his 1954 essay “This Age of Conformity,” the first depicts intellectuals abandoning the adversarial politics and aesthetic experimentation of the prewar period for the ...
Part 2: European Movements against the American Grain?
4. The Ambivalent Virtues of Mendacity: How Europeans Taught (Some of ) Us to Learn to Love the Lies of Politics
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“Untruth and Consequences” screamed the headline on the cover of the July 21, 2003, issue of Time magazine, which dealt extensively with the then-burning question “How flawed was the case for going to war against Saddam?” Once again it seemed that an American president was in danger of losing his credibility and being excoriated for the sin of telling lies to the American peo-...
5. The Place of Value in a Culture of Facts: Truth and Historicism
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Carved in stone on the Social Science Research Building at the University of Chicago are the following words: “When you cannot measure, your knowledge is meager and unsatisfactory.” That bold proclamation, attributed to Lord Kelvin, reflected the convictions of the sociologist William F. Ogburn, chair of the Committee on Symbolism, which was charged with ensuring that ...
6. Philosophy and Inclusion in the United States, 1929–2001
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In writing about “philosophy in the United States,” I mean to write about an academic discipline whose substance spilled over into other academic disciplines in the second half of the twentieth century, but whose perennial concerns—fundamental questions about the human place in the universe—engaged thoughtful members of the culture long before departments of philosophy existed. Under-...
Part 3: Social Inclusion
7. Catholics, Catholicism, and the Humanities since World War II
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“Today in America,” explained the Jesuit John Courtney Murray to the Columbia University sociologist Robert MacIver in 1952, “there is really no such thing as a genuine intellectual community.” Instead, “each professor is a law unto himself, entitled to make and present his own synthesis, his own order of truth. And out of all the competing orders the student must be free to make his own choice.” Mur-...
8. The Black Scholar, the Humanities, and the Politics of Racial Knowledge since 1945
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In 1963 the eminent historian John Hope Franklin offered his assessment of the cost of racial thinking to the store of knowledge. The assessment was not positive. Likening black scholars’ situation in the academy to a dilemma, Franklin angrily lamented the loss that defined black scholars’ lives. In the late nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries, Franklin observed, black academ-...
9. Women in the Humanities: Taking Their Place
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The humanities academy in the 1940s was an overwhelmingly masculine enterprise, more so, indeed, than it had been a generation before, because of the success of “professionalization”: women were moved out of jobs in English, history, and philosophy, even at many women’s colleges. Mary Calkins, for example, the philosopher and psychologist who trained with William James in the 1890s and ...
Part 4: Area Studies at Home and Abroad
10. Constructing American Studies: Culture, Identity, and the Expansion of the Humanities
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Among the countless international conferences held in the decade following World War II was a UNESCO meeting organized to discuss Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, approved by the U.N. General Assembly in 1948. Article 27 states: “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific ...
11. The Ironies of the Iron Curtain: The Cold War and the Rise of Russian Studies
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The many critics of American Sovietology portray it as an academic discipline with deep, even fundamental flaws. Born in “the worst years of the cold war,” these critics argue, the field came into being to serve geopolitical goals. From its first days, Sovietology gave into pressures that made “usable scholarship . . . in America’s national interest” more important than “detached ...
12. What Is Japan to Us?
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I have cribbed my title from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s short article “Geok-Tepe: What Is Asia to Us?” Written in 1881, this was a meditation on Russia’s civilizing mission and destiny as a European and Asian empire. My own purpose is post-Dostoyevskian and post-imperial: to offer an analytical overview of the relationship between the humanities and social sciences in the field of Japanese ...
13. Havana and Macondo: The Humanities in U.S. Latin American Studies, 1940–2000
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Spanish-language study was an essential component in the creation of U.S. Latin American area studies, and it has distant antecedents. Thomas Jefferson was one of the first American statesmen and politicians to envision the study of the Spanish language in the United States as a necessary adjunct to the education of the new country’s citizens.¹ Jefferson the Francophile saw ...
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This volume is part of the Humanities Initiative of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, chaired by Denis Donoghue, Steven Marcus, Francis C. Oakley, and Patricia Meyer Spacks. The academy’s chief executive officer, Leslie Berlowitz, has been an engaged supporter of this volume from its inception and continues to direct the overall initiative. Mapping the ...
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Page Count: 432
Illustrations: 2 line drawings
Publication Year: 2006