Global Studies and the Humanities

The Humanistic Disciplines

Global Studies and the Humanistic Disciplines

Touchstone Passages:

Thus, while the idea that ‘art’ is made by people everywhere has had the positive consequence of broadening awareness of the productions of all cultures, it has had the less positive implication that when all is said and done everyone makes ‘art’ just as we have come to believe we do.  But as we shall see, the modern Western view is deeply rooted in its own traditions, and even if we attribute to all cultures (and craft traditions) their own ‘aesthetics’ because some traits of artifacts are consistently regarded as more desirable or praiseworthy than others, it cannot be supposed that these traits explain the appearance of artifacts taken altogether, nor can it be presumed that what we see as formal characteristics have the significance we might give to them. (David Summers, Real Spaces, 34).

Questions to Address:

1) The humanistic disciplines as we know them were largely formulated to serve nation-building enterprises, so that artistic traditions were organized into (largely fictitious) “national traditions” and “national histories.”  Even Sociology long focused on the idea of “national culture.”  Further, the concepts of “art history,” “literature,” etc. arise out of a particular Western, post-Renaissance context.  What are the consequences of the assumption of more global perspectives on the organization of the humanistic disciplines?

2) In 2016, the MLA will be holding an international symposium in Düsseldorf (its first conference outside the US or Canada) entitled “Other Europes: Migrations, Translations, Transformations.”  How do we regard multi-lingualism, translation, and the future of national or post-national literatures in an age of globalization and through a global studies lens?  Does environmental humanities present a viable alternative to national formations?


Eugene Ostashevsky: Multilingualism and Monolingualism