Humanities on the Edge
The spread of Western knowledge in the age of globalization that began in the nineteenth century was in its own way as powerful a force as the political and economic transformations of imperialism. But it also raises the question, what counts as knowledge in Western knowledge? Whose knowledge and according to what protocols? The Western university was itself split between the older forms of knowledge developed within the context of the spiritual priorities of the medieval university and newer secular forms of knowledge that provided the foundation of modern science. The humanities broadly have continued the older tradition, but what role can their conceptual schemas play in the larger framework of a global university system today? How can the Humanities situate themselves in the era of cultural difference? In short, are “the Humanities” translatable?
Robert J.C. Young, Julius Silver Professor of English and Comparative Literature, New York University