The Corner


The Humanities are Dying, Poisoned by the Faculty

Fewer and fewer students choose to study the humanities these days and the main reason is that the field has been overrun by “progressive” notions. Those notions, of course, were introduced and spread by the faculty, eager to create lots of dedicated revolutionaries.

In today’s Martin Center article, Professor Mark Bauerlein examines the sad illness afflicting the humanities. Specifically, he looks at a recent statement put out jointly by the Association of American University Professors and the American Association of Colleges and Universities. “The incapacity of the experts and professionals who wrote the statement to understand why their own diminishment has happened is abundantly in evidence,” he writes.

The learned folks who wrote the statement are utterly blind to their own role in the decline of this once-grand field of study.

This paragraph of Bauerlein’s nails the problem exactly:

Today’s liberal arts professors have a different relationship to their subjects. Joy, wonder, awe, and inspiration are missing. The professors aren’t merely uncomfortable with Paradise Lost and Parsifal. They vigorously point out the sexism and racism of those works. But they even denounce earlier practitioners in their own fields, too, the New Critics, for instance, for their backward notions. We were told that opening the canon to women and persons of color was a positive and happy development, but that was only part of the project. The professors also had to denigrate the tradition, a turn proven by the dismissive label ‘Dead White Males.’ They got rid of the honorific term civilization and replaced it with culture, and then with cultures, which, they believed, eliminates the implication of the old term that some societies are civilized and others are savage.

Nowadays, everything has to be about envy and resentment and group injustice, the leftist passions. Many students have the good sense to turn away.

Read the whole thing, but don’t expect a cheerful solution at the end. There isn’t one. The humanities are gravely ill, but the professors can’t admit that they are to blame for it.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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