Category: Relevance of Humanities

Posts in this category discuss the wider relevance of those tools, methods, and disciplines often grouped together and called the Humanities.


“Do the Opposite”

In May 2010 I gave a talk to some members of my campus’s Honors College about some possible directions for its future. I learned PowerPoint for the talk–I had, purposefully, never used it before. Although I started my fulltime teaching career (in the early 1990s) simply reading my prepared lecture–as I still do if invited to present a lecture at another school or if giving a paper at a conference–I then moved to using acetate transparencies and old overhead projectors […]

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Info, Info Everywhere, But Which of it to Drink?

About a week ago, a friend at Ursinus College, in Pennsylvania, brought to my attention an online article written by his colleague in their Department of Politics and International Relations, about enrolling in a MOOC (massive open online course) to see what all the fuss was about. You may have heard about these courses–hosted by companies, such as Coursera, that have entered into agreements with schools, they provide the content for courses at some of the country’s leading universities–for free. […]

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… All Across Culture

About ten years ago the Department came up with a motto: Studying Religion in Culture. The “in” was italicized to stress the point that, unlike the common “religion and culture” construction that we see all across the field, at the University of Alabama we did not conceive of these two as separate domains that, like billiard balls, sometimes bump into each other (and thus the task of the scholar is to tract the collisions). Instead, the domain we know as […]

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Got, Got, Got, Got No Time…

Yesterday, I participated in a faculty panel as part of my university’s recruiting day, for high school students, and their parents, interested in attending our school–a panel in which a few of us answered questions about what we wish we knew then that we know now, what our favorite courses were to teach, etc. Message sent? Faculty are approachable. Not a bad one to transmit. […]

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Journalist, Know Thyself

Back in April, 2012, Frank Bruni, a regular columnist for The New York Times Magazine, wrote an Op-ed piece that was much discussed at the time. Entitled “The Imperial Promise of College,” it argued that the condition of the current economy (e.g., the high un/under-employment rate, the staggering amount of collective student debt, etc.) should prompt college students to select majors that have direct, practical pay-off. After singling out a couple of examples of majors that, in all likelihood, turn […]

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Self-loathing Scholarship

Self-awareness is hard. Because, let’s face it—a lot of people don’t like themselves. And in academe, where social ticks and neuroses are disproportionally high per capita, we are bunch of Woody Allens walking around with all of the hang-ups and none of the jokes. Well, okay, not none…there are parodies of the profession galore. The video that circulated on youtube and about which my colleague Russell McCutcheon recently posted on this very blog comes to mind.  It made my academic […]

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“The Art of Living Well”: Comments on Gregg Lambert’s Lecture

[This post was written by Prof. George McClure of the Department of History, University of Alabama.] Kudos to the Religious Studies Department for launching this timely and important lecture series! Some thoughts on the first lecture follow. To my mind, Lambert’s talk demonstrated or exemplified the crisis in the Humanities, rather than analyzing it. He spoke of human capital, rather than human meaning; economic value, rather than moral values; commodification of self, rather than communion with ideas . Although promising […]

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