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Arts of Living
Reinventing the Humanities for the Twenty-first Century
Arts of Living
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Kurt Spellmeyer - Author
N/A
Hardcover - 312 pages
Release Date: February 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5647-1
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5647-7

Out of Print
Price: $33.95 
Paperback - 312 pages
Release Date: February 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5648-X
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5648-4

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Summary Read First Chapter image missing

Argues that higher education needs to abandon the “culture wars” if it hopes to address the major crises of the century.

Arts of Living presents a social history of the humanities and a proposal for the future that places creativity at the heart of higher education. Engaging with the debate launched by Allan Bloom, Harold Bloom, Bill Readings, John Guillory, and others, Kurt Spellmeyer argues that higher education needs to abandon the “culture wars” if it hopes to address the major crises of the century: globalization, the degradation of the environment, the widening chasm between rich and poor, and the clash of cultures.

“I’m particularly impressed by the book’s originality as manifested in its critique of and attack on the arcane and esoteric direction academic humanities have taken in the past century (particularly under the influence of high theory during the past thirty years). It’s about time somebody took on the academy in such a knowledgeable way, without polemics, but with a moving and impassioned scholarship. This is a book many humanists have been waiting for, even if they didn’t know it.” — Lynn Z. Bloom, University of Connecticut

"What is the role of the humanities today? The critic? What is the role of love, the body, art as practice, pedagogy, the human individual, the professional in these arenas? This book allows us to consider these difficult questions together, with guidance. Most importantly, as we do so, we are allowed, encouraged to view ourselves as active agents in the process of considering humanities' histories and rethinking ourselves in those histories. I found this profoundly engaging, and other readers will as well. This is a wonderful book." — Wendy Bishop, Florida State University

"This is a provocative indictment of the narrowness of the humanities as traditionally conceived and a blueprint for a richer, more far-reaching conception of humanistic inquiry. An exciting, powerfully written book, guaranteed to be controversial." — John C. Brereton, University of Massachusetts

"Spellmeyer makes use of an astonishing array of writers, from Sophocles to James Agee to Frank Lentricchia to Deepak Chopra, characterizing and discussing their ideas in a highly accessible and compelling fashion. His careful readings of about a dozen texts are masterful and display the kind of practice that his main argument calls for: reading should be an act of engaging the world(s) and not a falsely scientized act of demonstrating methodologies.

"This book fits in an intellectual tradition as varied as Robert Scholes’s The Rise and Fall of English, Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, and Gerald Graff’s Professing Literature." — Douglas Hesse, Illinois State University

Kurt Spellmeyer is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University.


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Part I

1. Taking the Humanities Out of the Box

2. Democracy Sets in the West: From Able Citizens to Ignorant Masses

3. The Great Divide: The Professions Against Civil Society

4. The Trouble with English: The Rise of the Professional Humanities and Their Abandonment of Civil Society

5. The Poverty of Progress: James Agee, Lionel Trilling, and the Alienation of Knowledge

Part II

6. The Wages of Theory: Isolation and Knowledge in the Humanities

7. World without End: Criticism or Creation in the Humanities?

8. Specialists with Spirit: The Humanities—Outside the University

9. "Art Serves Love": The Arts As a Paradigm for the Humanities

10. Travels to the Heart of the Forest: Dilettantes and Professionals in the Twentieth Century

Postscript: Could Teaching, of All Things, Prove to Be Our Salvation?

Notes

Index



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