Rutgers professor to present on importance of humanities

Kurt Spellmeyer an author and Rutgers English professor, will be giving the annual Susan Bazargan Graduate Lecture on the importance studying the humanities Wednesday.

The English graduate student department is organizing Spellmeyer’s lecture. Ruth Hoberman, an English professor and head of the English graduate department, said that it is important for students to come to this lecture. She said it is important that universities teach fields like English and philosophy because they serve as a cure to the general obsession with economic gain.

Hoberman said taking the humanities classes is important because they teach critical thinking skills, which help students question and more carefully think about ideas that may be taken for granted. She added that people have moved from being a society that thinks and works for each other, to becoming individualized and as she puts it, “worshiping money makers.”

“They are worthwhile because we help people see the world in a more complex way,” Hoberman said.

Spellmeyer is an author of three books. He said he came up with the title for his lecture, which is “English in the Market Society: Meaning is What Matters, Not Value, by thinking about how the arts and sciences have lost its prestige. He argues that people are not willing to go into the humanities anymore because there is not a job waiting for a student when they graduate, unlike those who study technology.

He also said that the problem is not the major that is chosen; the problem is a declining of manufacturing, the growth of low wage jobs and outsourcing. Spellmeyer said that the worry about majors is a distraction from the plight of the middle class by the one percent.

Spellmeyer added that majors should not be used like products in order to get jobs. He also said that people should be asking why the economy has become rigged to hurt the middle class, while it simultaneously helps the rich.

The liberal arts seem to have gotten the short end of the stick lately with schools nation wide stressing math and science, he said. Spellmeyer said that the humanities are still important in the workplace. They serve as survival tools to preserve individual mental health and the health of modern society. They also teach to ask questions, find information, and draw conclusions based on these findings.

He has some advice for those who will not make it to his lecture.

“Read everything you can. Ask tough questions. Don’t accept what you hear on Fox News. College is a start, but you have to decide that you are going to educate yourself and never stop as long as you live,” he said.

His lecture is at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Lecture Hall of the Doudna Fine Arts Center.

Sam Nusbaum can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].