- Paperback: 172 pages
- Publisher: Fordham University Press; 1 edition (March 1, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0823257053
- ISBN-13: 978-0823257058
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.6 x 6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #903,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Humanities and Public Life 1st Edition
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"The Humanities and Public Life, an original, provocative, multi-voiced commentary on the state and possibilities of the humanities, strikes fresh notes in what has become a rather tired (though often desperately earnest) conversation. Although its essays repeatedly take unexpected directions, it suggests a unified way of thinking about issues that might appear disparate."-Patricia Meyer Spacks, Edgar F. Shannon, Professor Emerita, University of Virginia
"Like Ruth, homesick among the alien corn, humanities scholarship seems lost in the cold wilderness of instrumental reason. The Humanities and Public Life is a tonic and refreshing conversation about the possibility of redemption."-Robert Post, Yale Law School
"More than just a collection of smart essays, The Humanities and Public Life leaves ample room for discussion, dialogue, and dissent among its distinguished participants. This volume crackles with intellectual energy . Strongly recommended for anyone concerned with the ethics of reading and the public good of the humanities."-Rita Felski, University of Virginia
"This is a highly original and deeply exhilarating contribution to public debate about the value of the humanities. The scholars convened by Brooks are individually first-rate and diverse in field, representing literary studies, philosophy, politiical theory, law, and humanistic social science. Their insightful brief essays (it does not denigrate the others if I single out Elaine Scarry's beautiful meditation on the imagination and Jonathan Lear's haunting evocation of cultural loss) are framed by vigorous discussion and genuine interdisciplinary exchange. Stimulating for scholars and non-scholars alike, this book is unique for the range and quality of perspectives it makes available."-Martha C. Nussbaum, University of Chicago
"This superb collection, edited by Yale University emeritus professor Books and lawyer and literary scholar Jewett, asks: What is the relationship between the humanities and public life? Though the book requires sustained attention from even the most invested reader, commitment will be rewarded. . . This collection will rouse its readers again and again."--iPublishers Weeklyr Starred Review
"It ['The Humanities and Public life'] brings together a set of excellent and at times brilliant essays. . ." -Public Books, Simon During
"The book is a rich and engaging contribution to the overall discussion about the role of the humanities and it makes a persuasive case for scholars, and possibly for nonscholars, regarding the need to challenge the language of deliverables."--Anke Pinkert, Educational Theory
About the Author
Peter Brooks is Sterling Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Yale University and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Scholar at the University Center for Human Values and the Department of Comparative Literature at Princeton University.
Hilary Jewett, Assistant Director of the "Ethics of Reading" project, is a lawyer, literary scholar, and editor.
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Top Customer Reviews
Not to mention the quality of the participants. This book is the print version of a symposium put together by Peter Brooks of Princeton, after being, shall we say “moved” by the Torture Memos of the Bush administration. He invited his peers from Ivy League-type schools to be the audience and the participants. Everyone got to comment on everyone else’s contributions. The result is thorough, thoughtful, debatable, and unresolved. All good things.
At base it’s a pretty defensive argument for the humanities – how to justify their continuing existence in a time of cutbacks, how to make them more pertinent, more effective, more mission critical, more relevant. It diverges to all kinds of tangents as the learned participants snap off weak limbs and run with them.
The whole debate is put into strikingly sharp relief by William Germano, who came to academia (Cooper Union) via publishing (Columbia, Routledge). Unlike many of his co-commenters who deal with some aspect of someone else’s contribution, Germano takes on the entire topic - head on. His analysis is clear and pointed. His conclusion is that we might be asking the wrong question. Perhaps it is writing, not reading that needs to be ethically self conscious, because the writer will change the reader, for better or for worse, correctly or incorrectly. He puts the entire argument into clear perspective by taking it to a different level.
The best defense of the humanities comes from Jonathan Lear (Chicago), who, trying out for reporter at the Yale Daily News, interviewed the head of the fraternity where rumor had it they were physically branding initiates. The fraternity head said “It’s not as bad as you think.” And it turns out, that has been his m.o. ever since. Oh, his name was George W. Bush, the same Bush behind the Torture Memos that led to the symposium. Lear asks how the world might have been different had Bush been taught some right from wrong, had some dean become indignant over this activity, had the humanities taken a more direct role in forming students’ ability to judge ethically.
The result is nothing - no final statement, no recommendations, no follow-on symposia. But we are left with a book that challenges on numerous levels and from numerous angles.