the future of the humanities

The Social Role of the Critic

In spite of the recent discussion of the topic in the New York Times, I realize there is something antiquarian about my urge to think aloud about the nature of literary criticism. The decline of that role in society probably matters only to a fairly small caste of humanistically inclined readers. The implications of the decline, however, should matter to everyone.

Literary Criticism? Really?

Since my last post I've been thinking about the validity of the idea and the practice of literary criticism in a culture that often looks elsewhere for interpretation—and even more, that values expression over interpretation.

The Origins of Bad Writing

As Cecile Alduy points out in a recent ARCADE post, bad writing is far too common in literary criticism, which is surprising given the degree to which we are supposed to be attentive students of language and style. Cecile's post has gotten me thinking, Why do we write so badly?


My approach to the set of fields known as the Humanities is rather different from that of most people I know.  I hesitate to assert the universal validity of my approach because it is, basically, a desire for everyone else to become more like me.