Welcome Instapundit Readers!
As part of his “series” on the “higher education bubble,” Glenn today links a post with a title which addresses an issue I focus on (directly and indirectly) for much of the time I’m not reading about politics or writing this blog: “Kenneth Anderson: The New Physiocrats, or, Is There Value in the Humanities? There can be, if they’re taught rigorously and seriously. That does happen.”
As I finish up the proofreading of my dissertation, I am also working on creating several myth courses to teach, including a general introduction to Græco-Roman mythology, a course on the hero, another on Near Eastern myth and a fourth comparing the themes of great myths to those of classic films.
I have found the greatest challenge to the first course (the one on Græco-Roman myth) to be not organizing the study of the various myths (the outline I constructed corresponds almost perfectly with the two leading college textbooks on mythology), but organizing the first week: how to introduce the study of myth to show that it’s relevant to people in our contemporary society.
All too many scholars in the humanities (alas!) focus on esoteric and obscure theories, trying to “deconstruct” literature or define its structure while losing sight of its meaning — or even speculating why it is that humans tell stories. When I was an undergraduate, I sometimes wanted to challenge some of the humanities professors (those whose classes I learned to avoid), asking them why they were pursuing a career teaching language, literature and philosophy to young men and women who were looking forward to careers in banking, law, medicine, industry and other entrepreneurial endeavors.
It is a question I regularly ask myself as I look forward to teaching.