Oh dear, not great timing for an attack on the humanities – see why I study history.

Most humanities ‘research’ is the self-indulgent pursuit of obscure hobbies that neither need nor merit funding, and produces only unsold, unread and unreadable books, argues Clive Bloom

Don’t get me wrong – I can easily live with the occasional bung. There’s nothing I’d like better than to travel first class, fill my spare room with duck houses and build a moat around my suburban semi (second home and mortgage taken care of); if you want me to, I’ll even find time to drag myself on to that flight to the Caribbean for a little lobbying. Just leave a brown envelope filled with used notes round the back of the humanities block and I’m your man.

But I draw the line at research handouts for lecturers who don’t need them. No academic that I’ve ever met works nine to five, five days a week. With three months of holiday and every weekend free, who really needs a cash incentive to finish that groundbreaking study of the use of intransitive verbs in Elizabeth Gaskell’s work or undertake that much-needed study of medieval Provencal plainsong, the only window of opportunity for a research trip being July?

Read full story in Times Higher Education.

One Response

  1. Humanities ‘self-harm’ a case of awful timing (Response in Times Higher)

    20 May 2010

    The attack on humanities research by Clive Bloom, emeritus professor of English and American studies at Middlesex University, is another curious act of self-harm by the university and very poorly timed (“Money for antique rope”, 13 May).

    It comes just as Middlesex has decided to close its philosophy programme, its highest-rated research subject. This decision has been passionately opposed by academics across Europe and the US, including Noam Chomsky.

    The value of the humanities must be strongly defended as the coalition government’s education policy begins to take shape.

    Bloom would have poured out the hemlock, handed it to Socrates and watched him drink. He does not have to act as gravedigger as well.

    Simon Newton, York.

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