[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 to define various terms, he never defined the Humanities, in terms either of their origin or purpose—other than to suggest that the practical usefulness of a Humanities education is to burnish one’s “brand” for economic value in a contemporary culture awash with self-promotion. Continue reading
On September 25, 2012, Prof. Gregg Lambert of Syracuse University’s Humanities Center, joined us in Tuscaloosa to present a public lecture entitled “The Future of the Humanities”*–the inaugural lecture in this year’s series on the place of the Humanities and Social Sciences in the contemporary university. As with all future talks in this series, we plan to post an excerpt from the lecture soon after it is delivered, inviting comments from those in attendance or from those reading this blog, knowing also that the lecturer is always invited either to post a new blog or respond to comments from other to these excerpts.
Excerpt from “The Future of the Humanities”*
As I will return to discuss in the conclusion, given the growth of the tertiary sector globally [i.e., the service sector of the economy], let us briefly return to Marx’s earlier model. The problem with Marx’s entire theory of labour power is that it was premised upon the dominance of the manufacturing sector of 19th century economies in England and Germany, in which creativity and imagination were not among the potential to be developed as human capital stocks, and thus only belonged to the capitalists who creatively and imaginatively buy and sell labor or commodities. A worker did not need to be creative in most skills, only technically knowledgeable, and the only requirement was that he could be trained to perform a skill. Later on, the level technical knowledge increased and national programs of literacy and quantitative skills were put in place to train new classes of workers. Continue reading