Blow Up the Humanities

Blow Up the Humanities

Toby Miller
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 164
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt14btbc6
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Blow Up the Humanities
    Book Description:

    A short, sharp, and provocative book,Blow Up the Humanitieshas esteemed scholar Toby Miller declaring that there are two humanities in the United States. One is the venerable, powerful humanities of private universities; the other is the humanities of state schools, which focus mainly on job prospects. There is a class division between the two-both in terms of faculty research and student background-and it must end.

    Miller critically lays waste to the system. He examines scholarly publishing as well as media and cultural studies to show how to restructure the humanities by studying popular cultural phenomena, like video games. Miller ultimately insists that these two humanities must merge in order to survive and succeed in producing an aware and concerned citizenry.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0984-3
    Subjects: Education, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction: The Two Humanities
    (pp. 1-16)

    There are two humanities in the United States. One is the humanities of fancy private universities, where the bourgeoisie and its favored subalterns are tutored in finishing school. I am naming this Humanities One, because it is venerable and powerful and tends to determine how the sector is discussed in public. The other is the humanities of everyday state schools, which focus more on job prospects. I am calling this Humanities Two.² Humanities One dominates rhetorically. Humanities Two dominates numerically. The distinction between them, which is far from absolute but heuristically and statistically persuasive, places literature, history, and philosophy on...

  5. 1 Blowup Time
    (pp. 17-44)

    This chapter situates the humanities within the history of U.S. universities. That story is characterized by two tendencies: an expansion of governmentality, in the sense of research undertaken for the public weal, teaching that trains the populace in self-regulation, and paymasters and administrators accreting authority over academics; and an expansion of commodification, in the sense of research animated by corporate needs, students addressed as consumers, and collegecrats constructing themselves as corporate mimics (Miller 2003; also see Agger and Rachlin 1983; Tuchman 2009). The outcome has made culture an object and an agent of use, a resource that indexes and occasions...

  6. 2 The Price of Science
    (pp. 45-62)

    This chapter takes the analysis away from grandiose historicization and divination to consider the mundane (and dire) state of humanities publishing. As the public face and record of the sector, books and journals are dominated by Humanities One (literature and history) despite the size of Humanities Two (media and communications) because Humanities One is located in fancy schools with a privileged research status, which affords faculty more time to write and greater ease to promote their ideas, especially through books.

    Publishing is the key node for discarding old and promoting new forms of knowledge. A switching point between dominant, declining,...

  7. 3 Creative Industries—Credible Alternative?
    (pp. 63-92)

    We have seen the difficulties that confront the humanities in both macro and micro ways, from enrollment to philosophy to publication. The inevitable question set by these provocations is what should be done? This chapter examines an innovative answer to the crisis that recommends displacing—or perhaps redeploying—the humanities under the sign of “creative industries,” then provides a case study of its impact in the field of electronic games.

    Creative-industries discourse represents the most interesting and productive response/riposte to the crisis of the humanities I have seen. Although the concept was birthed in the United States and flourishes in...

  8. 4 A Third Humanities
    (pp. 93-116)

    As we think about the frantic defensive measures adopted by true believers in Humanities One and the earnest co-optive capture offered byconversocreationists, two key questions arise: What sense of the public interest should inform the humanities? And what should be their focus? The answers may come from Wilby’s quotation in the first epigraph, which appeared in theNew Statesmanfifty years after Snow’s original column: media and cultural studies. But those fields face insistent skepticism about Humanities Two overriding its other, per the DeLillo epigraph fromWhite Noiseand Goldberg’s account of the political economy.

    If we look...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 117-124)

    We often think of the U.S. research university as the peak of higher education. And so it is, if one focuses on inventions, prizes, salaries, libraries, citations, endowments, laboratories, and grants. But what about people who are not so much surfing this wave as being dumped by it? The current conjuncture of U.S. higher education is colored by crisis. The businesses and governments it seeks to serve and emulate are revealed to be naked and saggy, even as the promises of futurism appear deliverable only via the proletarianization of scholarly work. This is a turning point in educational history, with...

  10. References
    (pp. 125-154)
  11. Index
    (pp. 155-160)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 161-161)