Response to “Valuing the Western Tradition through Humanities”

In order to define humanities, I decided to first examine the interpretation of the Humanities Program in this controversial article and pinpoint what IS NOT humanities.

Humanities tends to be referential, finding interlocking texts that both implicitly and explicitly speak to each other. Davidson’s current Humanities Program encourages us Humesters to avoid familiar, unoriginal connections that have been made before, and instead branch out by relating the texts to our own life experiences. Connecting humanistic questions to modern day society helps the students actually use what we learn on a regular basis and better relate to the topics in texts written hundreds of years ago. One purpose of studying the humanities is to create opportunities for self-reflection. By allowing us to bring in our personal political views and pop culture into the classroom, the professors encourage us to think for ourselves, be more observant of the world around us, and raise new questions which have never been asked before.

The conventional Western canon is outdated. In order to properly grasp the humanities, we must have a broad scope not just of traditional western society but the entire world. The majority of the “Great Books” in the western canon are written by white European males. The Humanities need to have more of an emphasis on inclusivity. We are introduced to a wider spectrum of ideas to learn to view situations from different angles. We need knowledge about cultures outside of this western bubble in order to have a more global understanding of humanistic values. We need to resist the common stereotype that the west is “more civilized” and “superior”.

This new Humanities Program is in itself, revolutionary. It reorganizes our ideas and questions into a new format so we can use our humanitarian education in the real world. The article, “Valuing Western Tradition through Humanities,” proposes that we should not stray too far from traditional western literary culture, but such a narrow scope and limited way of thinking defeats the purpose of a liberal arts education. It goes against the purpose of humanities, to better understand the entirety of humanity, not just one biased perspective.

Humanities is the study and analysis of human society and cultures throughout time. However, the Humanities Program at Davidson has different personal meaning definitions for everyone. For the professors, it could be a way to welcome first year Davidson students and inspire them to take their classes. For non-humester outsiders, it could be considered that cult that wouldn’t talk to anyone else at the freshman ice cream social. For some of my fellow classmates, it is the class with the prompt that sneaks up on them over the weekend even though it is due every Sunday at 5:00. For me, Humes is not just a thought-provoking, creative, open-ended class with talented and helpful professors. The Davidson Humanities Program is my family. These were the first people I met at Davidson. It introduced me to my first friends, first assignments, first trips, and first adventures in college. As I continue to grow and progress, I will always have this inclusive community to fall back on.  I feel comfortable expressing my opinions and ideas to anyone in Humanities because of its tight-knit environment. With the hate we have experienced in the past couple weeks at Davidson, it feels great to have a sanctuary to talk about important, prevalent, social issues and to simply be comforted by people who you know love you. Humanities has “revolutionized” my entire life at college and helped me mature to the person I am today. Since Humanities is about human interactions on a personal level, I choose to leave the definition of your own experience of the Humanities at Davidson up to you.