The humanities are not just dying. By some measures, they are almost dead. In Scotland, the ancient Chairs in Humanity (which is to say, Latin) have almost disappeared in the last few decades: abolished, left vacant, or merged into chairs of classics. So too in the same period, the University of Oxford revised its famed Literae Humaniores course, “Greats,” into something resembling a technical classics degree. Both of these were long survivors, throwbacks to an era in which Latin in particular played the central, organizing role in the constellation of disciplines that we call the humanities. The loss of these “vestigial structures” reveals a long and slow realignment, in which the humanities have become a loosely defined collection of technical disciplines, with some genealogical connection to the old arts curriculum and the humanistic curriculum of the new universities of the Renaissance.
One Hundred Poems That Capture the Meaning of Joy
Christian Wiman’s new anthology brings together an admirable range of meditations on an emotion whose place in the world today can seem uncertain.
In his new anthology, Joy: 100 Poems, the writer Christian Wiman takes readers through the ostensible ordinariness of life and reveals the extraordinary. “We ate, and talked, and went to bed, / And slept. It was a miracle,” Donald Hall writes in “Summer Kitchen.” Through a luminous array of poetry and prose, Wiman captures joy in contemporary contexts. These works span from the 20th century to the present day, and as a result, the real, the specific, and the familiar shine through: “She’s slicing ripe white peaches / into the Tony the Tiger bowl,” Sarah Lindsay describes in “Small Moth.”
The First Woman to Translate the ‘Odyssey’ Into English
The classicist Emily Wilson has given Homer’s epic a radically contemporary voice. Late in August, as a shadow 70 miles wide was traveling across the United States, turning day briefly to night and millions of Americans into watchers of the skies, the British classicist Emily Wilson, a woman of 45 prone to energetic explanations and un-self-conscious laughter, was leading me through a line of Ancient Greek….