Whether the Humanities Are in Crisis or Not

Updated January 31, 2022

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Whether the Humanities Are in Crisis or Not essay

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In this twenty-first century, we might be familiar with the terms ‘Save the Humanities’ or ‘Restoring the Faith in Humanities.’ Hearing these terms over and over might raise the question: Is Humanities in crisis? Is it a luxury that we might be able to afford or obtain again in the future? Martha Neil Smith discussed the answer of these questions in her piece ‘The Humanities Are Not a Luxury: A Manifesto for the Twenty-First Century.’ She doesn’t only dispute those perceptions but also states that humanities are not a luxury but simply just a way for us, humans, to express ourselves. Even though a lot of scholars and publications refer to humanities as an expense and luxury, Smith believes otherwise. She utilized statements from other qualified scholars and experts in certain fields to support her argument that humanities are not exclusive fields and it belong to all of us as humans.

Smith begins her case by mentioning Mark Yudof, the president of the University of California that used metaphors to lighten up a serious situation. The situation where the English and Humanities department had been missing their payments for months, with the University justifying the reason as the department’s fault (Smith 50). Yudof even goes as far as saying that the Humanities department is one of the reasons why the public University has been underfunded by the states (50). Smith argues his point of view by utilizing Emily Dickson’s statement where she states that Yudof’s claims are ambiguous and had no context, considering the fact that humanities are priceless in today’s society (51). Besides that, she also used an article by another scholar, Robert Watson, who mentioned the fact that all undergraduates paid the same money to the University regardless of their major. Thus, Humanities undergraduates are not the reason for the University being underfunded (51). These statements suggest that humanities are not something extravagance or limited but instead something that essential for society.

To further her argument, Smith points out that Yudof’s statement gives a misinterpretation to the public that Humanities are in deep crisis (51). It doesn’t help that the protest for humanities is often associated with crisis and struggles (52). Smith shows that despite being publicized for been failing and struggling for years, the Humanities still strive and exist until today. She mentioned that although those kinds of statements were meant to bring sympathy towards Humanities, it actually only decreases the public support because the public can recognize that the community is actually avoiding the real problem instead of solving it (53).

The public disinvestment in humanities is also another topic Smith discusses in her writing. She believes it is the reason why the humanities department in the public University is struggling to get funds from the states (53). Smith emphasized that this issue is not to be taken lightly, considering the fact that it might affect the national economy and safety, especially in the Humanities community (54).

Smith concludes her piece by presenting numbers of recommendations on how we can utilize humanities as a tool in this twenty-first centuries. She suggests that people that involved in the humanities field should identify and deny any false report against humanities, actively promoting the fact through every aspect of humanities, prioritizing their education over their financial values, understanding the responsibility and effects that come with technology, and maintain a good relationship with scientists and administrators despite being disputed in the society (54-55).

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Whether the Humanities Are in Crisis or Not. (2022, Jan 31). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/whether-the-humanities-are-in-crisis-or-not/


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