Blow Up the Humanities

Toby Miller, Author
Toby Miller. Temple Univ., $24.95 (164p) ISBN 978-1-4399-0983-6
Reviewed on: 07/30/2012
Release date: 08/01/2012
In his latest, UC-Riverside media and cultural studies professor Miller analyzes the decline of the humanities in American university education, drawing connections to economic downturns and the growing demand for more practical studies, such as government and economics. Miller (Cultural Citizenship) breaks humanities into two categories: the traditional discipline of private universities invested in the intellectual value of their studies; and that of state universities, which tend to focus more on job prospects. Professors, Miller argues, account for the schism between the thought of the humanities and the action of culture, and he provides well-researched examples of the perceived irrelevance of the humanities. Miller’s biting assessments of experts’ commentary provides moments of levity, but is occasionally acerbic enough to upset the book’s otherwise balanced presentation. While Miller concludes that the humanities must concede that their two–cultures model (art vs. science) is no longer relevant, he also suggests that the humanities, as was stated during the formation of the NEA and NEH, “offers the public a better understanding of the past, better tools to analyze the present, and a better view of the future.” (Sept.)