The debate as to whether the humanities is in decline is almost over. Statistics on declining enrolments, shrinking job prospects, dwindling funding and growing condescension from society add up to show that all is not well. Humanities scholars have, in the recent past, tried to discover what is wrong as well as do something to demonstrate that the humanities is still relevant to society. In this regard, many have suggested that the humanities should change to accommodate the needs of the marketplace, while others have argued that to do so will change the humanities so drastically as to render it unrecognizable. This article is about the current state of affairs in the humanities and the different views that have been expressed on it. It argues that rather than the humanities, it is actually society that is in decline, and as such changing the humanities to suit the needs of the marketplace would be a disservice to our long humanistic tradition. It acknowledges that humanities scholars need to engage more with society even as they continue in activities that have defined the humanities through the years and argues for humanities therapy as a way for the humanities to engage with a world that is increasingly enamoured with technê.
Ibanga B. Ikpe
Bridging the Artist-Scholar Divide
Ibanga B. Ikpe
One of the consequences of hyper-positivism on contemporary scholarship has been an increase in measuring academic excellence by instrumental rather than intrinsic value. Increasingly, university disciplines are required to demonstrate their relevance in the marketplace, resulting in a tendency by some arts and humanities scholars to deemphasise research and concentrate on creative practice. This paper attempts to bridge the gap between these two responses. It argues that concentrating on creative practice (techne) reduces the art academic to a tradesperson and that concentrating on rhetoric while ignoring arts practice alienates the artist from vital skills and techniques. It identifies scholarship as the defining feature of academic excellence and argues that this is better achieved when academics use critical thinking to balance creative expression and research based practice.