This edition of Talking Humanities reflects on how the humanities are changing and the future of the discipline over the next decade.
We have perspectives from the UK, Ireland and the US, including a case study of how digital is changing the future of humanities research.
What is consistent across the contributions is the turbulence of the changes currently taking place – and how they yield fresh and innovative opportunities to enrich and strengthen these subjects and practices at the heart of what it is to be human in an ever-changing world.
In our ‘long read’ article, ‘Permeable worlds and territoriality’, Ludmilla Jordanova, emeritus professor of history and visual culture at Durham, explores the flexibility and fluidity of the boundaries that define the humanities.
Rather than being limited by them and ‘tut-tutting’ about change, practitioners should exploit them to extend their practice and build new, productive relationships with partners. ‘This is not about unrealistic, polymathic utopianism,’ she writes. ‘It is about perfectly feasible possibilities for enhancing practices’
Robert Newman, president and director of the North Carolina-based National Humanities Center, also welcomes change, albeit ‘with a turn toward the practical’. In ‘Bursting the humanities bubble to resist decline’, he writes: ‘To reverse their decline for another decade, the humanities must burst their residential bubble which once was a necessity and is now a detriment.’
In ‘The SHAPE-ID Interdisciplinary Research Toolkit’ Professor Eve Patten, director of the Trinity Long Room Hub at Trinity College, Dublin, outlines the inter-university work which went into producing a toolkit that supports interdisciplinary research in the arts, humanities and social sciences, with live links to the various helpful tools.
‘What will the humanities look like in ten years?’ Professor Christopher Smith, executive director of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, traces the changes already happening in the humanities and which will shape their future. Despite the current turbulence he is upbeat and points out: ‘The humanities are inescapable and inescapably relevant. We have enormous opportunities…’