Like a consumptive protagonist in a Victorian novel, the humanities
have been dying for a long, long time. Earlier this week, James Pulizzi declared
that English departments would soon be “extinct,” and that there was
“no reversing” this decline. Although his topic was the newly emergent
“digital humanities,” his sentiments could have been plucked more or
less verbatim from The New Republic in 1970: “English,” wrote poet, professor, and editor Reed Whittemore, “is going down the drain.”
In fact, the humanities have been going down that drain since at least 1621.