American Council of Learned Societies
Occasional Paper No. 40

The Transformation of Humanistic Studies
in the Twenty-first Century:
Opportunities and Perils


Locality and Worldliness
by Thomas Bender

Taking the Humanities Off Life Support
by Stanley Chodorow

The Course of the Particulars:
Humanities in the University
of the Twenty-first Century

by Pauline Yu


This Occasional Paper originated in a panel session at the 1997 ACLS Annual Meeting on "The Transformation of Humanistic Studies in the Twenty-first Century: Perils and Opportunities." The contributors—Thomas Bender, Dean for Humanities and University Professor, New York University; Stanley Chodorow, Provost and Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania; and Pauline Yu, Dean of Humanities and Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of California, Los Angeles—were asked to address how current forces are reshaping humanistic studies today and what the shape and substance of humanistic studies might or could be in the future.

Their papers do indeed look to the future, but with an understanding of the historical development of the humanities in the university. As scholars, the authors appreciate the unlimited promise of humanistic learning for individuals, the general scholarly community, and the public. As senior university officials, they have acute—perhaps painfully acute—knowledge of the limited choices left to practical administrators. That they see more opportunities than perils facing the humanities should give the reader cause for optimism.

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