We think of the humanities as a cluster of specialized academic activities. So they are. But they also belong to the ordinary world, the world where students and faculty make connections and careers; where they eat and drink and fret; where they move through new buildings and old seminar rooms. In The Humanities and Everyday Life Michael Levenson places academic humanities within this field of daily life, where abstract thought stands alongside material need. The humanities also live outside the university in activities that have been overlooked or undervalued: in book clubs, in historical re-enactments, in visits to museums and libraries, in private collections, in contributions to Wikipedia, and in amateur genealogy. These activities belong to the humanities, quite as much as research published in specialty journals. Posing questions on professionals versus amateurs and what constitutes expertise, The Humanities and Everyday Life addresses both the university and the world beyond, to see where they meet and fail to meet, and to argue that the walls between them should lower.
Introduction 1: The Humanities at Large 2: Departments, Disciplines 3: Experts and Expertise 4: The Humanities in Time 5: Places to Think in: Library, Museum, Seminar Conclusion
Michael Levenson is William B. Christian Professor of English at the University of Virginia and author of A Genealogy of Modernism (Cambridge University Press, 1984), Modernism and the Fate of Individuality (Cambridge University Press, 1990), The Spectacle of Intimacy (co-authored with K. Chase, Princeton University Press, 2000), and Modernism (Yale University Press, 2011); and editor of the Cambridge Companion to Modernism (2000, 2nd edition 2011). Professor Levenson has published essays in such journals as ELH, Novel, Modernism / Modernity, The New Republic, Wilson Quarterly, and Raritan. He has been chair of the English Department at the University of Virginia and is the founding director of the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures. His teaching has ranged through literary history from the eighteenth century to the present, and more recently toward global cultural studies.