Between Humanity and the Homeland: The Evolution of an Institutional Concept

Geoffrey Galt Harpham

in The Humanities and the Dream of America

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780226316970
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226317014 | DOI:
Between Humanity and the Homeland: The Evolution of an Institutional Concept

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The humanities seem to be so pacific, benign, meditative, enlightening, and enriching. The very notion of a crisis seems like a tragic interference in the noble mission of the humanities, whose interests are essentially identical to those of humankind. But the history of the humanities is a history of struggle, characteristically involving some ambivalence or uncertainty about the consequences of modernity. Renaissance humanism is often depicted as a modernizing movement dedicated to the promotion of individual autonomy, self-realization, and interpretation against traditional sources of authority. The interests of the humanities and religion converge on a number of issues, perhaps the most significant of which is the role of values and attitudes in shaping knowledge. The history of the humanities teaches that tradition is, among other things, an excellent springboard for innovation and progress.

Keywords: humanities; renaissance; religion; modernity; humankind

Chapter.  6689 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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