The futility of the humanities

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In 2003 I published an article in the British journal, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, entitled “The Utility of the Arts and Humanities." I gave that paper as a talk at a handful of American universities in the first few years of this century, and at Carnegie Mellon University in 2002, the poster announcing my talk was a modified socialist-realist affair featuring an arm wielding a wrench. It’s a lovely design, well proportioned and not at all heavy-handed (there is no attempt to mimic the Cyrillic alphabet or the high Futurist style), so my wife and I had it framed. A few years later, my older son, Nick, who has a fine eye for graphic design himself, decided to tape an “F” to the side of the word “utility," and it is his gesture that gives me the title for this follow up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHumanities in the Twenty-First Century
Subtitle of host publicationBeyond Utility and Markets
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781137361356
ISBN (Print)9780230366657
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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