Laurence. "The Plural Organized Worlds of the Humanities." The Organization of
Knowledge in Modern America, 1860-1920. Alexandra Oleson and John Voss, eds.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1979.
refers to this chapter and Veysey’s book-length work, The Emergence of the
American University (Chicago, 1965) in her discussion of patterned
isolation. Here, Veysey examines the humanities during the period
of 1865-1920. The historical focus isn’t especially relevant for my work,
and I can’t find specific references to "patterened isolation" (which does
appear explicitly in
Emergence). Veysey’s discussion of professionalization (pp. 57-72)
presents a few useful pieces for returning to, maybe. The chapter itself
presents three perspectives on the humanities to characterize the 55 year era:
- Burgeoning variety: the humanities as a continuation of the
genteel tradition, which gave way to the fading of generalists around 1890
and the beginnings of advanced research, professionalization, and
specialization. pp. 52-57.
- Professionalization: National organizations, learned societies
and groups, and a devil may care attitude toward disciplinary
interrelatedness (Veysey says the social sciences had a much more pronounced
interrelatedness). pp. 57-72.
- Homogenous social context: Four kinds of groups: educational
(school-related), custodial (keepers of special collections), voluntary
associations (clubs, etc.), and media (publishers, performance agencies,
etc.). pp. 72-85.
The final two sections of the essay are concerned with a review of the
forces at work (85-89) and an assessment of the "basic intellectual
achievement of the era" (89-92). Veysey suggests that the era can be
reduced to 50 or 60 names (92), and he proposes that a comparable survey should
be considered for the period running from 1920-1970. This move to
name-counting indicates that the contributions were individual and typically
measured as such. He refers briefly to movements–constrasting low-brow
(counter-culture, avante-garde, and revolutionary) and high-brow (old world high
culture) movements, but his final judgment is a count of notable, named
contributors and their exemplars–Santayana for those outside the academy and C.
S. Peirce for those affiliated with the academy.
"On the plane of thought, they claimed to represent the heritage of
higher ‘civilization.’ Thus, in a time of rapid academic transformation marked
by strongly progressive assumptions, the humanities stood for an important
degree of continuity. While participating to some extent in the pervasive
onward and upward mood, their spokesmen insisted that an acquaintance with
the literary and artistic remains of the long-term past still ought to
furnish the hallmark of the truly educated man or woman" (52). 1865-1920: An
inertial humanities concerned with remnants.
"To the generalists, research meant submergence in arcane
dry-as-dust materials located within subfields they could scarcely
comprehend, along with the acceptance of a dubious and pretentious scientific
posture. The Ph.D. and the entire Germanic style of graduate training
threatened liberal education. Did it threaten the existence of the
cultivated social elite as well?" (54)
"Those who reject the dominant scientific conception of the pursuit
of knowledge can only wander off in a score of mutually unrelated
directions. It is easy to see these as amounting to no more than a mixed bag
of random leftovers. In particular, when such fields as history, English,
foreign languages, and the history of art and music rejected science and yet
invoked the past, there was the grave danger that they would run around in a
spirit of sheer antiquarianism–calling attention to anything merely
because it existed, with no self-conscious principle of selection, no concept of
the logical relationship between evidence and larger hypothetical
generalizations. Of course none of this matters if one stops dreaming of
intellectual unification and rests content with the celebration of
particular achievements in art, music, poetry, literary criticism, or
philosophy. But these symptoms of confusion, drift, and retreatism
deserve emphasis in dealing with a rubric that to outsiders appears far more
coherent than it is" (57).
"The most important boundary may well be not the formalistic one between
so-called amateurs and professionals but the line that divides those who
William James called the once- and twice-born, between those persons of
all backgrounds who have become converted to a profoundly sustaining
intellectual allegiance of this kind and those others (possibly laboring
alongside them in the same academic departments) who have not" (61). Could this
be switched into a networks vocabulary re: homophily bias, boundary spanners,
Terms: unguided drift [that characterizes the humanities] (56),
specialization (59), managerialism (60), "intensification of elitism" (63),
centrifugal forces (68), quasi-aristocratic clubbishness (68), MLA cliquishness