Future Tense for the Humanities: Views from the Liberal Arts College and the Technological Institute

Professor James Buzard,
Prof Priti Joshi
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Profs. Priti Joshi (Puget Sound) and James Buzard (M.I.T.) propose to discuss the possible futures for humanistic study from two complementary institutional settings: the traditional liberal arts college and the technological institute. A small American "university" (really a college) centered on the humanities, Puget Sound epitomizes one kind of environment in which the humanities has flourished in higher education; a large and decentralized institute for scientific and technological study, M.I.T. exemplifies an environment in which the humanities have never quite found a home. There will always be a place for the liberal arts college, but it is plain that more and more universities once identified with humanistic study are reorienting themselves toward something like the M.I.T. model. This is a moment when the marginal position of the humanities at places like M.I.T. seems to be turning from an exeptional to a prophetic situation. But it is precisely the moment to de-marginalize the humanities at the technological institute, to bring the commitment to general humanistic education long fostered in the liberal arts college into the center of our institutional identities and goals. The liberal arts college may enjoy the status of a humanistic haven, but it may also run the risk of marginalization in the broader culture; the technological institute should blaze the trail in redefining humanistic study, finding ways to convert marginalization into productive engagement across the "two cultures" divide.

We will each speak for about 20 minutes about our experience as teachers and administrators in these two different institutional settings, focusing on practices and institutional pressures that seem especially promising or worrying for the future of the humanities. In the remaining time we wil engage in dialogue with each other and with audience members about the prospects and pitfalls lying ahead.

Keywords: Humanities, Future, Liberal Arts, Science, Technology
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies, Knowledge, Teaching and Learning, Cyberspace, Technology, Science, Environment and the Humanities
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Professor James Buzard

Professor, Literature Faculty, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Most of my work is at the intersection of literature, travel, and anthropology. I am the author of two books, *The Beaten Track: European Tourism, Literature, and the Ways to "Culture," 1800-1918* (Oxford 1993) and *Disorienting Fiction: The Autoethnographic Work of 19th-Century British Novels* (Princeton 2005), as well as numerous essays on 19th- and 20th-century Anglo-American literature and culture. I am co-editor of the forthcoming *Victorian Prism: Refractions of the Crystal Palace* (Virginia 2006). As Head of Literature at MIT, I am centrally engaged in the Institute's effort to redefine humanistic study for the 21st century. This work builds upon my past experience as consultant to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, where I helped develop a research program area in the Humanities and Culture.

Prof Priti Joshi

Assistant Professor, English Department, University of Puget Sound

Ref: H06P0181