4Humanities is an initiative to advocate for the humanities backed by the international community of digital humanities scholars and educators. Government and private support for the humanities—for research, teaching, preservation, and creative renewal in such fields as literature, history, languages, philosophy, classics, art history, cultural studies, libraries, and so on—are in decline. In some nations, especially since the economic recession that started in 2007, the decline has resulted in major cuts in government and university funding. Leaders of society and business stake all the future on innovative and entrepreneurial discoveries in science, engineering, biomedicine, green technology, and so on. But the humanities contribute the needed perspective, training in complex human phenomena, and communication skills needed to spark, understand, and make “human” the new discoveries. In the process, they themselves discover new, and also very old, ways to be human. They do so through their unique contribution of the wisdom of the past, awareness of other cultures in the present, and imagination of innovative and fair futures. Many people care about the humanities, not just in the educational and cultural institutions directly affected by the recent cutbacks, but also in business, government, science, media, politics, the professions, and the general public. They believe that society will be poorer, not richer, without the humanities to help us grasp, and evolve, what it means to be “human” and “humane” in today’s complex world.
4Humanities provides a platform for humanities advocacy, creates advocacy projects, and conducts research on the role and perception of the humanities in public.
As a platform, 4Humanities stages the efforts of humanities advocates to reach out to the public. We are a combination newspaper, magazine, channel, blog, wiki, and social network designed to amplify “voices for the humanities.” We solicit well-reasoned or creative demonstrations, examples, testimonials, arguments, opinion pieces, open letters, press releases, print posters, video “advertisements,” write-in campaigns, social-media campaigns, short films, and other innovative forms of humanities advocacy, along with accessibly-written scholarly works grounding the whole in research or reflection about the state of the humanities.
As a project incubator, 4Humanities has created initiatives that inspire people to speak up for the humanities (e.g., the Humanities, Plain & Simple Initiative and “Shout Out For the Humanities” student contest), video mini-documentaries, infographics, and other resources.
As a research group, 4Humanities has started such major projects as the WhatEvery1Says study to data mine, topic model, and analyze large-scale samples from newspaper, magazine, and other public discussions of the humanities. We are also studying the way politicians discuss and act on the humanities (e.g., What U. S. Politicians Say About the Humanities).
4Humanities began in 2010 because the digital humanities community—which specializes in making creative use of digital technology to advance humanities research and teaching as well as to think about the basic nature of the new media and technologies–woke up to its special potential and responsibility to assist humanities advocacy. The digital humanities are increasingly integrated in the humanities at large. They catch the eye of administrators and funding agencies who otherwise dismiss the humanities as yesterday’s news. They connect across disciplines with science and engineering fields. They have the potential to use new technologies to help the humanities communicate with, and adapt to, contemporary society.
8 thoughts on “Mission”
Hello, I’d like to get a copy of the “Humanities Matter” poster (file). As it is formatted on the site in PDF in a very long file, I am unable to print that. Is it available in a series of 8.5 x 11 documents?
Hi Steven Muir,
Thanks for your interest in the “Humanities Matter” poster. I can relay your request to the appropriate person. Would you let me know your address so I can let her know where she should send it if we do have extra copies? Thanks!
If you get a response to this, can you please post a version that will allow for printing so that others can access it?
That’s a great idea, Paul. We’ll see what we can do.
I thought you and your 4Humanities readers might be interested in a new book from Oxford University Press: Readers’ Liberation (The Literary Agenda) by Jonathan Rose.
The Literary Agenda is a series of short polemical monographs about the importance of literature and of reading in the wider world and about the state of literary education inside schools and universities. The category of ‘the literary’ has always been contentious. What is clear, however, is how increasingly it is dismissed or is unrecognized as a way of thinking or an arena for thought. It is skeptically challenged from within, for example, by the sometimes rival claims of cultural history, contextualized explanation, or media studies. It is shaken from without by even greater pressures: by economic exigency and the severe social attitudes that can follow from it; by technological change that may leave the traditional forms of serious human communication looking merely antiquated. For just these reasons this is the right time for renewal, to start reinvigorated work into the meaning and value of literary reading.
For the Internet and digital generation, the most basic human right is the freedom to read. The Web has indeed brought about a rapid and far-reaching revolution in reading, making a limitless global pool of literature and information available to anyone with a computer. At the same time, however, the threats of censorship, surveillance, and mass manipulation through the media have grown apace.
Some of the most important political battles of the twenty-first century have been fought–and will be fought–over the right to read. Will it be adequately protected by constitutional guarantees and freedom of information laws? Or will it be restricted by very wealthy individuals and very powerful institutions? And given increasingly sophisticated methods of publicity and propaganda, how much of what we read can we believe?
This book surveys the history of independent skeptical reading, from antiquity to the present. It tells the stories of heroic efforts at self-education by disadvantaged people in all parts of the world. It analyzes successful reading promotion campaigns throughout history (concluding with Oprah Winfrey) and explains why they succeeded. It also explores some disturbing current trends, such as the reported decay of attentive reading, the disappearance of investigative journalism, ‘fake news’, the growth of censorship, and the pervasive influence of advertisers and publicists on the media–even on scientific publishing.
For anyone who uses libraries and Internet to find out what the hell is going on, this book is a guide, an inspiration, and a warning.
I hope you’ll spread the word about this exciting new book to your members and affiliates. Perhaps you could feature it on your newsletter or website? We are also able to offer a 30% off discount code for this title (originally priced at $20.00), partner on a giveaway, or offer a copy if you are interested in publishing a book review.
I look forward to hearing from you, and please let me know if you have any questions going forward.
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