RightReading would not ordinarily post an institution’s capital campaign video, but the presentation below by Richard E. Miller, Chair of the English department at Rutgers University raises some interesting issues (after the first minute and a half of departmental promotion, which can safely be skipped). The video was produced by Miller with videography provided by Paul Hammond, Rutger’s Director of Digital Initiatives, to support a Center for the New Humanities at Rutgers.
What are these new humanities? Miller says that the humanities “somewhat lost its way” — its real function is “to improve the quality of the world we live in.” He also advocates a collaborative approach to creativity, in which language and image work are brought together. Specifically, he states that “To compose and compose successfully in the twenty-first century, you have to not only excel at verbal expression and written expression but you also have to excel in the use and manipulation of images.”
One of the things that this blog has attempted to do is — as it says on this page’s footer — “to integrate the editorial and design functions, which too seldom communicate effectively.” In practice, this means the blog tends to attract some people who are interested in writing and others who are interested in design — maybe focusing more exclusively on one thing or the other would be a better approach to attracting an audience.
But that’s not what I’m trying to do. I think that some readers do share my cross-over interests, while others are open to interests outside their specialties. Miller’s approach (despite the quote cited above) seems oriented to training language specialists to work together with visual specialists; I would rather see people become creatively ambidextrous and develop capabilities in both areas.
However that might be, I believe that Miller is right that twenty-first century communication increasingly integrates language work and visual work, and I will keep plugging on way on both fronts. While I think there is still value in the fundamentals of classical education, I applaud Rutgers’ effort to keep abreast of changes in the way communication is happening, during what Miller calls “the time of the most significant change in human expression in human history.”