ERIC Number: ED337818
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Jul-17
Television and the Crisis in the Humanities.
It is indeed a problem, perhaps even a crisis, that many Americans are ignorant of "The Tempest," the Civil War, the location of the Persian Gulf, the Constitution, or the chief justice of the Supreme Court. However, if conservative humanists continue to ostracize, scorn, and ignore both media studies and the media themselves, the result will not be a return to the good old days when people read Homer and listened to Bach, but an even darker veil of ignorance, fostered for economic and political purposes by the very media that some humanists do not wish to understand. The crisis rhetoric of conservatives has about it the ring of both Chicken Little and of Nero fiddling. They emphasize "cultural literacy" while overlooking actual literacy. The problem of student illiteracy is a chronic problem with a long history, rather than a crisis. But the conservatives ignore real problems that have better claim to the word "crisis" than do such conservative worries as political correctness, radical professors, and the inability of students to quote Shakespeare. Conservative critics are also concerned with free speech issues, yet would deny academic freedom to scholars who disagree with them. They ridicule humanistic inquiry into music video, television, popular music, and film, condemning media studies and the academic freedom required to conduct such studies. Conservative critics' mistaken understanding of television and its history underscores the need for more, not less, media study. If the humanities have no use for the media, the globally monopolized media are certainly not going to have any use for the humanities. (Thirty-eight notes are included.) (RS)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Revised version of a paper presented at the Popular Culture Association Conference (Winchester, England, July 17, 1991).