The Future of the Public Humanities


Is the future of the humanities a public one? In an era of challenges to history, philosophy, literature, and the other humanistic disciplines, utopian thinking about new outlets and broad audiences has become commonplace. Institutions of all sorts promote projects in the public humanities as an unequivocal gain for all, while reflection on the compromises of such projects—not to mention their hazards and omissions—is rarer, and sometimes difficult or unwelcome.

The Public Futures of the Humanities
Judith Butler
The public humanities stand the best chance of showing the distinctive contribution that the humanities can make to all fields of knowledge by keeping alive values that are irreducible to both instrumentality and profitability. The public humanities not only shows what the humanities have to offer the public sphere, but how various publics are framing what the humanities do within the university.
Virtual Reality and Public History
Hannah H. Kim

How could virtual reality be best used for public humanities? One immediate thought is that virtual reality would be an excellent tool for teaching history.

Speaking for the Humanities
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Today more than ever, we have to remember that the strict distinction between public and private still holds only in theory. It is not that the public and the private are hopelessly entangled; it is just that the public and the private bleed into each other. I am interested in how the non-scientist, the non-philosophers, the non-political scientists of the world can share the basic consistencies of a reasonable polity: the public sphere.

Art in the Expanded Field
Natalie Loveless

This book-length manifesto offers itself as both love song and lament. I interrogate research-creation as a genre full of exciting pedagogical and institutional possibility. I also lament the hopeless exhaustion I see in colleagues all around me. As a strategy of resistance to the resignation that surrounds me daily in the arts and humanities wings of the university, I look to research-creation, even as it is being commodified right under our feet, as a site of generative recrafting: a touchstone and orienting point that might help render daily life in the academy more pedagogically, politically, and affectively sustainable.

Why Public Humanities?
Susan Smulyan

I have been thinking of this essay as a road map to the ideas and practices of public humanities, a map that would help answer the title question, "why public humanities?" This essay will look at some beginning points for public humanities; work through definitions; talk about the stakes for faculty and students–and the universities and communities in which they work–and consider whether public humanities could be transformative rather than simply translational. No matter how you map public humanities, discussions of collaboration and social justice need to be at the center.

Press Here: Cultural Acupuncture and Civic Stimulation
Doris Sommer
I want to focus on three diverse examples of trickle-up innovation—Theatre of the Oppressed, ACT UP, and the Pro-Test Lab—with mentions of others to encourage more cultural-agent spotting. Artists are never simply victims of circumstance. Their agency sets off creative responses. To follow through from the call of social challenges to the responses of aesthetic innovation is to stimulate collective change.
Counterhistories of Feminism
Kyla Schuller
As feminists rise up and flood the streets in the years since Trump's election, the movement has simultaneously strengthened its own internal critique. Feminism has long been comprised of multiple streams in tension and often outright conflict. Drawing on nearly 200 years of feminist activism and writing, Kyla Schuller delineates the traditions of what has come to be called "white feminism" and "intersectional feminism"—revealing the liberatory potential of a feminism all too often forgotten, and the devastating limitations of the movement that has become iconic.
Humanities Futures
Jo Fox

Debates have raged over whether the latest crisis of the humanities is rhetoric or reality. In either case, perceptions matter, and such perceptions have real consequences. So what should be done?

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