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Education News

Does High Unemployment Mean the Humanities Should Be Dumped?

Chion Wolf / WNPR

From Faith Middleton: More institutions of higher learning have shuttle busses to the nearest corporate high rises.

While it is understandable in a time of high unemployment to think about practical careers, it appears more people, including some entrepreneurial university administrators, think it's time to leave the “fluffy stuff” for hobby hour. That fluffy stuff would include literature, philosophy, languages, the arts and history—what we call the humanities. (Or, the stuff that hangs around long after we're dead.) Possibly the new rules of the road go something like this: read Michener before bed, and call it a day.

Gina Barreca, a professor at The University of Connecticut, wrote a column defending the humanities for The Hartford Courant. It was highly read and commented upon by online readers. To sum it up, Barreca thinks dumping the humanities isn't such a hot idea. One of her more memorable lines is, “The study of literature (poetry) can be justified by the fact that nobody ever charmed a girl by reciting an equation.”

Dr. Barreca is a tenured literature professor, feminist scholar, and author of eight books. But Gina's greatest achievement, in my view, was being selected for induction into The Friar's Club in New York; you know, the place where comedians have all those fiery discussions over dinner about trigonometry and quarks, the useful stuff of life.

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  • Gina Barreca is a women's humorist, writer, speaker, and professor of feminist theory.


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