Rebirth of Humanities

The humanities are not dying, but similar to how people, technology and the world evolves, the way humans perceive humanities is changing too. Kim Middleton, author of Remix Video and the Crisis of Humanities, wrote an article on this phenomenon discussing some of the main concerns scholars have about the changing humanities. Remix and mash up videos may be the way humanities change and conforms to the digital age. Jonathan McIntosh, a well known remix artist and producer of “Donald Duck Meets Glenn Beck” raises attention to the decline of employment in the American economy.

The video shows Donald Duck, a hard working citizen who loses his job and his home due to foreclosure. The video uses pop culture references illustrate a myriad of perspectives in relation to humanities. This downfall of income has resulted in many universities to cut the humanities including: language, theater and art. Without these subjects, schools are merely reduced to technical or professional schools without fostering the cognitive skills the humanities challenge. Rosemary Feal,  the Executive Director of the Modern Language Association, fought against eradicating humanities with little success, holding onto the idea that cultural skills and cognitive abilities would be lost without this education.

However,  with the incline of technology in the digital age, humanities will not becoming a lost art if eliminated from educational settings. People are being provided the same skills through digital mash ups and the interconnectivity of cultures through technology. “Donald Duck Meets Glenn Beck” today has over 2 million views, and was translated into 6 different language. This video not only speaks out to the economic crisis that resulted in the loss of humanities for some, but also how humanities can be incorporated into new, creative and inventive ways. The intertexuality actually makes us more superior learners, able to gain many perspectives and use different mediums, scaffolding to create a more complex and comprehensive understanding.

“It is a text that acquires meaning though its manifold social systems of circulation, and its cultures and subcultures, composed of knowledgeable community members who know what to do with it, and how to respond in a myriad of ways that add new layers of content to the video” (3.6).

Many, like Mark Bauerlein argue that the digital age is accountable for the decline of individual thought.  Many articles were released by individuals who believe technology is making us the least intelligent generation, relying on google to think for us and “they worry that we are losing what makes us fundamentally human” (2.2). The short clip below outlines a brief summary of Bauerlein’s belief and the teen response.

Technology has helped this generation shape what we understand about ourselves and others, and where we fit into this world with the potential we can offer. It has changed us both individually and on a cultural scale, but not because we are less intelligent. Because we became a generation who thinks and learns differently than the past and have learned to adapt with the times. We are innovators, creators and are able to apply the cognitive and cultural skills learned and combine our understandings with other means such as video, audio and text.

Discussed by Chuck Tryon, author of Reinventing Cinema: Movies in the age of media convergence, the audience has become an active part of production and can utilize our ideas through remixes, mash ups, or response videos like never before. This kind of engagement is very powerful and works in tandem with humanities in cognitive and cultural experiences. The humanities are simply being presented in different means than before, but that does not make the experience any less worthy or culturally rich. Digital humanities is all around us and becoming more sophisticated through cultural, social and personal implications. Instead of harping on the economic endangerment of humanities, we should begin to shift our focus to how we can learn and grow with digital humanities.

by @deannabertini

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8 thoughts on “Rebirth of Humanities

  1. I completely agree with you. Humanities is always the first to get thrown out of schools because they don’t bring in the money that sports or other activities do. I did theater for years and our budget was so small it was ridiculous. People don’t realize how important these humanities are to the youth of today. It is an expression of who we are. Teens especially look towards humanities to find out more about themselves. That is a very important part of growing up. Why would someone want to take this away? I will never understand.

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  2. This post is really informative and relatable to I’m sure many of us. It definitely seems as if humanities are being removed from schools more and more throughout the years. Of course, sports activities are very important for students but, humanities are just as much. The use of humanity enables students to express themselves and bring in diversity into the schools. This then enables children to branch out in their lives and sets them up for a healthy future. I think humanities need to be fought for.

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  3. I thought this was a really great point to be made in general. Society has definitely changed in numerous ways, both negatively and positively, but it should also be noted that technology has bettered us in some ways. While it has become an integral piece of our daily lives, it is sometimes for good reason. Videos such as Donald Duck meets Glenn Beck gives a specific and important message to its audience, and what’s great is that in can be shared in a multitude of ways to a large variety of people. “Because we became a generation who thinks and learns differently than the past and have learned to adapt with the times.” That is such a true statement, we’ve adapted appropriately to our times, and just like each generation there are differences.

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  4. “Technology has helped this generation shape what we understand about ourselves and others, and where we fit into this world with the potential we can offer. It has changed us both individually and on a cultural scale, but not because we are less intelligent. Because we became a generation who thinks and learns differently than the past and have learned to adapt with the times. We are innovators, creators and are able to apply the cognitive and cultural skills learned and combine our understandings with other means such as video, audio and text.”

    Im intrigued here. Before I write this remember I am also part of this generation that has the issues. All indicators show we are significantly more restricted in learning with the increase of the internet as a reference point. The average student currently has an in class attention span of ten to twelve minutes and pays attention to reading informative text for about 15 minutes. The teachers of this generation has to find a way to dazzle dazzle their kids instead of having them sit and learn- its become a dog and pony show. The google research capability has turned our reading to “burst reading” looking for the shortest route for a direct answer and missing much of the information to round the reader better. The learning is in trouble- but it is salvageable. All expedited technology is not good technology. Sometimes its more useful to crack a book and push through the text.

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  5. This post was extremely eye-opening to me, especially because we are apart of this technologically-controlled generation. In some ways, technology has shaped us positively, but in negative ways as well. It seems that in today’s society, technology has over-powered the importance of humanities. Although technology and humanities on the outside are two totally different things, it’s amazing how students can still learn the same things through it. Like you said in your post, people are provided with the same skills through mashups and cultures throughout the internet. I have never thought of it that way before reading your post.

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  6. I really liked your post! It really go me thinking about does technology really make us less intelligent. I would say no it does not make us less intelligent but it does make us more lazy. The internet eliminates the thinking process for many things. If someone wants to know why something works or how to solve a math problem, yes there are some sites that will solve the problem for us and that is for the lazy. But there are also sites that help the learner solve the problem. The internet gives us more information about topics to help us become better learners. And since information is at the tips of our fingers it Is is giving people the opportunity to become more intelligent and have more knowledge.

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  7. Great blog post! It was innovative and helped me understand the readings and videos better, it also got me thinking on a more critical level. I liked how your phrased humanities as “digital humanities” in this era of time. I guess the class we are all in now would be considered “digital humanities”. I believe that this generation will only prosper and better with digital humanities and social media if used for the right reasons and purposes and this class and your review of the videos and articles gives us insight on how to use it for learning and education purposes. In the second video, “The Dumbest Generation”, the first guy said he thinks this is the least motivate generation because the answers are right there on the internet, we do not have to look far. I agree with this and I found myself frustrated when I have to look a little longer for an answer on the internet but I hope that we use digital humanities, the internet, and social media to motivate us to connect to ore people and ideas then ever before!

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  8. This post left me thinking at such a critical level, and it was the only post I’ve read so far that had me this engaged. The discussion and inclusion of Tryon’s article really proves a great point about audiences. In today’s society, their ideas truly can drive a project. It is a rebirth in a way, because including an audience’s opinion can give the project more personal. Digital humanities allows for us to explore our ideas in a new light, via media. These innovative kinds of media give us the chance to be creative and explore our own thoughts as individuals.

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