Special Issue "The Relevance of The Humanities in the Twenty-First Century: Past and Present"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 August 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Albrecht Classen
Website
Guest Editor
Department of German Studies, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Interests: medieval and early modern cultural history and humanities; premodern gender studies; history of mentality; comparative literature
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We all face the same challenges, with the Humanities being under attack because the STEM fields gain increasingly all the attention and resources, especially in the academy. Curiously, this is not necessarily driven by our colleagues in the sciences, but by administrators who are fixated on grants, patents, technological discoveries, and public reputation. But STEM and STEAM, to formulate it in a conciliatory fashion, are not binary oppositions; instead, as our journal Humanities has already proven countless times, they are simply two sides of the same coin. Nevertheless, we have not paid enough attention to the critical approaches defining and defending the Humanities and the Arts. We need to do more to illuminate why the study of culture, history, and the arts is of central importance without which STEM also become meaningless and irrelevant. Our existence here on earth is defined by our past and present; and we cannot form a constructive society without ethics and morality, without ideals and values. Those aspects are deeply grounded in our history, which extends directly into our modern lives. This volume intends to compile strategically oriented papers addressing, once again, and also in a refreshing and convincing manner, the central importance of the Humanities.

We live in a world today where digitization and robotization are making huge strides, probably helping us to improve all of our lives. But we are not simply algorithmic functions of super-computers, we are human beings with all our shortcomings and failures, and with all our ideals, endurance, principles, and social norms. Those have been developed throughout time under an infinite number of cultural circumstances. Consequently, we need to understand and explain in strong terms why the Humanities matter in Afghanistan, in South Africa, in Argentina or in Germany today How do we draw from literary texts, cinematic art works, visual objects, and philosophical and religious treatises in order to come to terms with the fundamental issues concerning us all as human beings? How do we address the public to convince them about the centrality of ethics, morality, idealism, communication, aesthetics, and related aspects? In short, this volume intends to bring together arguments of a universal nature that can be utilized in any kind of academic and political setting.

  1. Focus: Explanation and defense of the humanities from a historical and modern perspective
  2. Scope: From antiquity to the modern world; addressing the humanities on a global level
  3. Purpose of the Special Issue: Provide very specific talking points for all scholars in the Humanities when they are engaged with the public, with politicians, and especially with university administrators

Prof. Dr. Albrecht Classen
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Humanities vs. STEM
  • ethics
  • morality
  • philosophy
  • literature
  • visual arts
  • justification of the Humanities, past and present

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
The Amazon Rainforest of Pre-Modern Literature: Ethics, Values, and Ideals from the Past for Our Future. With a Focus on Aristotle and Heinrich Kaufringer
Humanities 2020, 9(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9010004 - 24 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The tensions between the STEM fields and the Humanities are artificial and might be the result of nothing but political and financial competition. In essence, all scholars explore their topics in a critical fashion, relying on the principles of verification and falsification. Most [...] Read more.
The tensions between the STEM fields and the Humanities are artificial and might be the result of nothing but political and financial competition. In essence, all scholars explore their topics in a critical fashion, relying on the principles of verification and falsification. Most important proves to be the notion of the laboratory, the storehouse of experiences, ideas, imagination, experiments. For that reason, here the metaphor of the Amazon rainforest is used to illustrate where the common denominators for scientists and scholars rest. Without that vast field of experiences from the past the future cannot be built. The focus here is based on the human condition and its reliance on ethical ideals as already developed by Aristotle. In fact, neither science nor humanities-based research are possible without ethics. Moreover, as illustrated by the case of one of the stories by Heinrich Kaufringer (ca. 1400), human conditions have always been precarious, contingent, puzzling, and fragile, especially if ethics do not inform the individual’s actions. Pre-modern literature is here identified as an ‘Amazon rainforest’ that only waits to be explored for future needs. Full article

Research

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Anthropocene, Technology and Fictional Literature
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030056 - 02 Jul 2020
Abstract
In the Geosciences, the new concept of the Anthropocene has been well established. Today, in the Humanities, it is increasingly also accepted as centrally relevant because it allows us to describe our present world in a more accurate fashion. The critical question of [...] Read more.
In the Geosciences, the new concept of the Anthropocene has been well established. Today, in the Humanities, it is increasingly also accepted as centrally relevant because it allows us to describe our present world in a more accurate fashion. The critical question of this study is what opportunities result from literature and literary studies in order to increase our understanding of the Anthropocene. This essay argues in favor of promoting the study of literature and of the Humanities in the search for necessary impulses that might free us from unilateral-instrumental concepts employed by the Natural Sciences as the only academic field that might be able to solve problems using exclusively technological strategies. We live in the Anthropocene now and must engage with it critically by drawing from both the Natural Sciences and the Humanities if we want to hope for a livable future here on earth. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Weeping in the Face of Fortune: Eco-Alienation in the Niger-Delta Ecopoetics
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030054 - 30 Jun 2020
Abstract
Scholarship on Niger Delta ecopoetry has concentrated on the economic, socio-political and cultural implications of eco-degradation in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of the South-South in Nigeria, but falls short of addressing the trope of eco-alienation, the sense of separation between people and [...] Read more.
Scholarship on Niger Delta ecopoetry has concentrated on the economic, socio-political and cultural implications of eco-degradation in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of the South-South in Nigeria, but falls short of addressing the trope of eco-alienation, the sense of separation between people and nature, which seems to be a significant idea in Niger Delta ecopoetics. For sure, literary studies in particular and the Humanities at large have shown considerable interest in the concept of the Anthropocene and the resultant eco-alienation which has dominated contemporary global ecopoetics since the 18th century. In the age of the Anthropocene, human beings deploy their exceptional capabilities to alter nature and its essence, including the ecosystem, which invariably leads to eco-alienation, a sense of breach in the relationship between people and nature. For the Humanities, if this Anthropocentric positioning of humans has brought socio-economic advancement to humans, it has equally eroded human values. This paper thus attempts to show that the anthropocentric positioning of humans at the center of the universe, with its resultant hyper-capitalist greed, is the premise in the discussion of eco-alienation in Tanure Ojaide’s Delta Blues and Home Songs (1998) and Nnimmo Bassey’s We Thought It Was Oil but It Was Blood (2002). Arguing that both poetry collections articulate the feeling of disconnect between the inhabitants of the Niger Delta region and the oil wealth in their community, the paper strives to demonstrate that the Niger Delta indigenes, as a result, have been compelled to perceive the oil environment no longer as a source of improved life but as a metaphor for death. Relying on ecocritical discursive strategies, and seeking to further foreground the implication of the Anthropocene in the conception of eco-alienation, the paper demonstrates how poetry, as a humanistic discipline, lives up to its promise as a powerful medium for interrogating the trope of eco-estrangement both in contemporary Niger Delta ecopoetry and in global eco-discourse. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Defining and Defending the Middle Ages with C. S. Lewis
Humanities 2020, 9(2), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9020051 - 18 Jun 2020
Abstract
The scholarly writings of C. S. Lewis (1898–1963) have both inspired the study of the Middle Ages and confirmed the relevance to the humanities that medieval literary texts can have for the present. He was aware that the straitjacket implied by periodisation can [...] Read more.
The scholarly writings of C. S. Lewis (1898–1963) have both inspired the study of the Middle Ages and confirmed the relevance to the humanities that medieval literary texts can have for the present. He was aware that the straitjacket implied by periodisation can blind us to the universal values presented in medieval literature. Qualitative assumptions made about the (usually undefined) Middle Ages include an alienating remoteness, and also a general ignorance, especially of science and technology. Lewis drew attention to the knowledge of astronomy, for example, and pointed out that medieval technical skills in architecture, agriculture and medicine are important for us to be aware about. Three medieval works illustrate this universality with respect to technical skills (the Völundarkviða); identity and the self (the Hildebrandslied); and the popular love-song (the courtly love-lyric). Lewis cautioned against pejorative terms like ‘Dark Ages’, noted problems of perspective in assessing all pre-modern literature, and showed that earlier works have a continuing value and relevance. Full article
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