Arts of Living

Reinventing the Humanities for the Twenty-first Century

By Kurt Spellmeyer

Subjects: Philosophy Of Education
Paperback : 9780791456484, 312 pages, February 2003
Hardcover : 9780791456477, 312 pages, February 2003

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Table of contents


Part I

1. Taking the Humanities Out of the Box

2. Democracy Sets in the West: From Able Citizens to Ignorant Masses

3. The Great Divide: The Professions Against Civil Society

4. The Trouble with English: The Rise of the Professional Humanities and Their Abandonment of Civil Society

5. The Poverty of Progress: James Agee, Lionel Trilling, and the Alienation of Knowledge

Part II

6. The Wages of Theory: Isolation and Knowledge in the Humanities

7. World without End: Criticism or Creation in the Humanities?

8. Specialists with Spirit: The Humanities—Outside the University

9. "Art Serves Love": The Arts As a Paradigm for the Humanities

10. Travels to the Heart of the Forest: Dilettantes and Professionals in the Twentieth Century

Postscript: Could Teaching, of All Things, Prove to Be Our Salvation?



Argues that higher education needs to abandon the “culture wars” if it hopes to address the major crises of the century.


Arts of Living presents a social history of the humanities and a proposal for the future that places creativity at the heart of higher education. Engaging with the debate launched by Allan Bloom, Harold Bloom, Bill Readings, John Guillory, and others, Kurt Spellmeyer argues that higher education needs to abandon the "culture wars" if it hopes to address the major crises of the century: globalization, the degradation of the environment, the widening chasm between rich and poor, and the clash of cultures.

Kurt Spellmeyer is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University.