Saturday, October 12, 2013

Feature books: Humanities

Envisioning landscapes, making worlds: Geography and the humanities. The past decade has witnessed a remarkable resurgence in the intellectual interplay between geography and the humanities in both academic and public circles. The metaphors and concepts of geography now permeate literature, philosophy and the arts. Concepts such as space, place, landscape, mapping and territory have become pervasive as conceptual frameworks and core metaphors in recent publications by humanities scholars and well-known writers. This book contains contributions from leading scholars who have engaged this vital intellectual project from various perspectives, both inside and outside of the field of geography. The topics covered range widely and include interpretations of space, place, and landscape in literature and the visual arts, philosophical reflections on geographical knowledge, cultural imagination in scientific exploration and travel accounts, and expanded geographical understanding through digital and participatory methodologies. The clashing and blending of cultures caused by globalization and the new technologies that profoundly alter human environmental experience suggest new geographical narratives and representations that are explored here by a multidisciplinary group of authors.

Humanities in the twenty-first century. What is the value of the arts and humanities today? This question points to a long and extensively discussed dilemma. This book offers a novel approach to tackling this difficult question. The book's contributors offer examples that show that, rather than relying on the narrowly utilitarian notion of 'research impact' that has developed within current educational policies and debates, it may be more appropriate to look at the ways in which arts and humanities research is already engaged in collaborative endeavours, both within academia and beyond, in order to address the big ethical, political, technological and environmental challenges of contemporary life.


The public value of the humanities. Recession is a time for asking fundamental questions about value. At a time when governments are being forced to make swingeing savings in public expenditure, why should they continue to invest public money funding research into ancient Greek tragedy, literary value, philosophical conundrums or the aesthetics of design? Does such research deliver 'value for money' and 'public benefit'? Such questions have become especially pertinent in the UK in recent years, in the context of the drive by government to instrumentalize research across the disciplines and the prominence of discussions about ‘economic impact' and 'knowledge transfer'. In this book a group of distinguished humanities researchers, all working in Britain, but publishing research of international importance, reflect on the public value of their discipline, using particular research projects as case-studies. Their essays are passionate, sometimes polemical, often witty and consistently thought-provoking, covering a range of humanities disciplines from theology to architecture and from media studies to anthropology.

Why the humanities matter: A commonsense approach. Is there life after postmodernism? Many claim that it sounded the death knell for history, art, ideology, science, possibly all of Western philosophy, and certainly for the concept of reality itself. Responding to essential questions regarding whether the humanities can remain politically and academically relevant amid this twenty-first-century uncertainty, this book offers a guided tour of the modern condition, calling upon thinkers in a variety of disciplines to affirm essential concepts such as truth, goodness, and beauty.

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