For hundreds of years, studying the humanities was the vanguard of the elite - now it's in steep decline. Clifford Siskin and William Warner ask: if the humanities are in crisis, are they even worth keeping?
'It’s time to bring the crisis of the humanities to a close. Efforts to track student numbers in the humanities, especially in America, now read like a long-running soap opera with high (and even modest) hopes dashed by more bad news.
As far back as 2013, one observer in The Atlantic claimed the crisis was largely over. What had been a steep drop in numbers was now only a “gentle slope.” She was wrong. By 2015, The Washington Post reported that “the number of English majors at the University of Maryland, a public flagship, drop[ped] 39 percent over five years.” Maryland wasn’t alone, and other numbers have been telling the same story -- including declines not only in undergraduate majors but also in applications for doctoral study.
The primary responses have been to blame or to tinker. The people who play the blame game have turned on others, dwelling on what presidents, deans, career-minded students and neoliberalism have been doing to “us.” The tinkerers have tried modest forms of self-improvement. In the United States, they include research departments in literary study that are adding creative writing tracks to their majors to bolster numbers.' ... Keep reading on Inside Higher Ed