Retired Director of Research, Modern Language Association
The Humanities: What now? What next?
This presentation and conversation will explore three much-discussed problems: (1) the problem of adjunct labor and PhD employment; (2) the flight of undergraduates out of humanities baccalaureate programs since 2012; and (3) curriculum and (as I term it) the problem of the knowledge base. The discussion of the first draws on systematic national data from the U.S. Department of Education (DoED) on student enrollment and the changing balance of tenure-track and full- and part-time non-tenure-track faculty members in U.S. higher education since 1995. The second draws on DoED degree completions data to examine trends in bachelor’s degree completions since 2001, with some additional detail about what’s happening in languages other than English, considering the number of degrees, the number of institutions conferring those degrees, and the number of different languages in which institutions are conferring them. Using the picture of the higher education landscape that emerges from these data explorations, the last section engages in a more speculative consideration of the causes and consequences for the humanities of what Louis Menand has called “post-disciplinarity.”
Download Laurence paper as a PDF
February 11, 2021
3 – 5 pm