American Council of Learned Societies
Occasional Paper No. 6

The Humanities in the University:
Strategies for the 1990s


The University and the Larger Community
Roderick S. French
Merrill D. Peterson

Teaching the Humanities in the University
Susan Resneck Parr
Margaret B. Wilkerson

Humanistic Research
W. R. Connor
J. Hillis Miller


The Annual Meeting of the American Council of Learned Societies affords an opportunity for scholars and teachers of the humanities in the 46 disciplines and sub-disciplines represented by the Council’s constituent societies to engage in formal and informal conversation on topics of broad interest. The Main formal session of the 1988 Annual Meeting was a panel discussion on the subject of  “The Humanities in the University.”

The Council invited six speakers to address three principal sets of questions: the relationship between university- and college-based humanists and the broader public; the role of teaching the humanities in the university; and the role of scholarship in the humanities in institutions of higher education. ACLS was fortunate to assemble an unusually stimulating panel: Dr. Roderick S. French, Vice President for Academic Affairs at George Washington University; Professor Merrill D. Peterson, formerly Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia; Dr. Susan Resneck Parr, Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tulsa; Professor Margaret B. Wilkerson of the Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of California at Berkeley; Professor W. Robert Connor of the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University; and J. Hillis Miller of the Department of English at the University of California at Irvine.

The speakers were paired two to a topic: Peterson and French spoke on questions of public outreach; Parr and Wilkerson on teaching; and Connor and Miller on research. The resulting discussion prompted spirited debate in the three topically organized group conversations that followed. ACLS is pleased to be able to publish the remarks of the speakers in this, our sixth Occasional Paper. They appear here as they were originally presented, with only minor editorial changes made by the authors.