What are Humanities?
Dr. Adam L. Tate Chair, Department of Humanities G-210 Arts & Sciences Bldg AdamTate@clayton.edu (678) 466-4809
Sherree Buchanon Administrative Assistant Department of Humanities G-210 Arts & Sciences Bldg SherreeBuchanon@clayton.edu (678) 466-4890
According to the 1965 National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act: "The term 'humanities' includes, but is not limited to, the study of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life."
The specific disciplines of the humanities explore the heart of the human experience by encouraging reflection on its nature and value and by encompassing time-tested methods of inquiry - dialogue, historical and logical analysis, critical interpretation and scholarly investigation. The humanities are ways of thinking about what is human about our diverse histories, values, ideas, words and dreams. They help to shape individuality and community, and thus pose fundamental questions about the past, present and future. The humanities inspire us to ask who we are and what our lives should mean. They ask us to place ourselves in the worldwide context of humankind and to understand commonalities and differences.
Opportunities to infuse your day-to-day life with humanistic knowledge are found almost anywhere. If you've ever appreciated the architecture of a building, gazed at a painting in a museum, seen a movie, read a poem, or thought about the meaning of life, you have already taken part in the shared human experience that defines the humanities.
This is the first in a series of New York Times articles about how digital tools are changing scholarship in history, literature and the arts.