Recently, I had cause to stop and think about what the humanities actually was to me. I realised that my ideas about The Humanities primarily (and perhaps understandably) revolved around what I thought the place of classics and ancient history were in a wider humanities context. But, that’s not actually where my humanities journey began, so over the years my ideas about the humanities have been honed down as my specialisation honed down. But actually, I am a huge believer in Liberal Arts education and allowing students to roam around the humanities as they wish. I think it’s probably a good thing for students to take subjects outside their major, but I say this as a person who has a pass degree with three majors and a minor: classics, archaeology and philosophy, and a modern history minor.
It wasn’t until I started thinking about The Humanities that I realised that this multidisciplinary foundation actually encouraged me to think in different ways that if I had done the kind of degree programme that I teach on. The quantity of metaphysics (which I loved) and epistemology (which I decidedly did not love) that I took in during my degree has changed the way I think, even though now I cannot remember the brilliant* mathematical formula I created to explain David Lewis’s Truth in Fiction theory [paywall].
As I am pretty keen on doing, when I began to think I also began to write, and I produced this brain map of what The Humanities is, to me:
The HUMANities: It’s about thinking through what it means to be HUMAN, now. And at every other point in time: past and future.
So, all in all. The Humanities gives us a chance to look at the world and to be better and do better. And that’s everything.
*I think there is a direct correlation between how much of this I remember and how brilliant I think it was, so keep that in mind!
The Academic Kindness gift circle was set up to spread some kindness and joy among academics.
The gift circle has now closed for sign up, and those who have registered will be receiving the details of their giftee in the post shortly.
Just a reminder:
If you'd like to share pictures of your gift and anything else please feel free to tweet them at me, or with the #AcademicKindness hashtag, or by email. I'll collate all the pictures and anything else I get so we can have a gallery of Academic Joy.
Finally, thank you. The response to this was overwhelming, and so many more people signed up than I had anticipated. This is a wonderful thing!
The other day I tweeted a random thought, as it came to me (as I do more often than I would care to admit...)
The tweet got a small amount of attention, and enough - I think - to warrant actually setting a gift circle up. A traditional gift circle is based on people's needs, but I want this to be based on the need for solidarity and smiles - that's something we all need as early (or not!) career academics who are perhaps struggling with all kinds of extra pressures. Therefore, gifts should have the sole intention of making your giftee smile, feel happy, contented, more hopeful, and/or less alone in the academic wilderness.
How this particular gift circle will work is a bit like a Kris Kringle. For now it will be a one-off, perhaps with repeats every 6 months or so depending how we go. As I'm aware that many people won't be in a position to be sending off gifts willy nilly.
So - if you would like to be part of this one-off academic kindness gift circle, please fill out the form below. I will recruit my partner to randomly assign gifters to giftees, and then I will send out the details of who you will be sending a gift to.
The spend limit will be £15- (excluding postage), but please do not feel as though you must spend this much. I am aware that even £15- can be a lot of money for someone. Gifts should be sent within one month of receiving your giftee. Gifts can be bought or made, and you can choose whether or not to reveal yourself to your giftee.
Please do not send food unless you know your giftee's dietary requirements
If you like what I do here, and on YouTube and Twitter, you can buy me a pinch of fairy dust.