directions

Picked this up from Scot Barnett’s site, Richard Miller presenting to the Rutgers Board of Trustees on the future of English and the ‘new humanities"

Of course there’s the whole thing about technology and the mildly embarrassing task of feeling that you have to explain to the people running your university what Wikipedia is (not that you wouldn’t but it’s still disconcerting, right? That people responsible for guiding the overall direction of a university might not have a clue about such matters.). However I was particularly interested in Miller’s observation about the role of the humanities in relation to "creativity" and the suggested error we have made in becoming overly focused on the activity of "critique."

I think I understand where Miller is coming from, and I agree with what he’s saying here. We’ve been focusing our own efforts in Professional Writing at Cortland on developing creativity that expands out from the traditional sites of "creative writing" into other discourses and genres. Part of that has to do with working in a range of media and collaborating across networks, but it also has to do with combining creativity with critique in problem solving.

The point here, and I also imagine is Miller’s point, is not to abandon critique or what theory has given us the opportunity to see, but to make the creative, productive turn, to move beyond critique’s negative, reactive operation. I think this connects with what I was saying in my earlier post today regarding Spellmeyer: that the error in our research is not theorizing but the inability or unwillingness to move in some positive direction. That doesn’t mean everything needs an "application," but rather that our intellectual community is often so punishing of positive claims. Humanists often see committed to problem-posing, to holding on to traditional values (or alternately holding on to revolutionary ideals), to resistance as a first response, and so on. I think it’s more than a considered, intellectual position. It’s a cultural identity. So again, the point is not to give up critique but to move beyond it to see what positive things it might offer us.

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