Monday, July 2, 2012

Notes Toward A Post-academic Humanism, 2

Thinking more about my humanities manifesto-in-progress. Article in the NY Times about how small farmers are creating a new business model for local agriculture. Makes me wonder: as the American small farmer goes, so goes the American non-academic humanist?

Take the names of great institutions of the arts in New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts; Brooklyn Academy of Music. What if we re-imagine these: The Metropolitan Museum of the Humanities; Lincoln Center for the Humanities; Brooklyn Academy of the Humanities.

What would that mean? What would these institutions do?

Imagine a Brooklyn Academy of the Humanities. An organization that supports humanists in their research and writing about language, literature, art, architecture, music, theater, history, religion, etc. But no teaching. An organization that publishes books and journals, sponsors exhibits, stages performances, and offers public lectures. But no teaching. To a degree, it overlaps with what the Brooklyn Academy of Music already does. And the Metropolitan Museum of the Humanities and the Lincoln Center for the Humanities would overlap with what the existing Met and the existing Lincoln Center do. But no teaching.

Why do I hate teaching so much?

I don't. I love teaching, in fact. But what, if any, is the natural and inevitable connection between research and teaching? The modern research university in the United States began with Johns Hopkins in 1876. It has not existed from time immemorial. And there is no reason it must have a monopoly on the humanistic enterprise in perpetuity, especially when a case can be made that it has not done such a hot job with the humanistic enterprise for the past century and a half.

As per usual when my addled mind drifts back to this manifesto-in-progress, I'm not sure where I'm going with this. But I keep having these thoughts...and here is where they get parked...

Help shape my thoughts, anyone?


No comments:

Post a Comment