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Permanent Crisis. The Humanities in a Disenchanted Age (October 29)

Book Cover Permanent Crisis

Book Cover “Permanent Crisis”, © N.N.

21.10.2021 - Article

Book event on Paul Reitter and Chad Wellmon’s new book “Permanent Crisis: The Humanities in a Disenchanted Age.”

Deutsches Haus at NYU presents a conversation with Paul Reitter and Chad Wellmon, moderated by Sharon Marcus in the context of the recent publication of Reitter and Wellmon’s new book, Permanent Crisis: The Humanities in a Disenchanted Age (The University of Chicago Press, 2021).

The humanities, considered by many as irrelevant for modern careers and hopelessly devoid of funding, seem to be in a perpetual state of crisis, at the mercy of modernizing and technological forces that are driving universities towards academic pursuits that pull in grant money and direct students to lucrative careers. But as Paul Reitter and Chad Wellmon show, this crisis isn’t new—in fact, it’s as old as the humanities themselves.

Today’s humanities scholars experience and react to basic pressures in ways that are strikingly similar to their nineteenth-century German counterparts. The humanities came into their own as scholars framed their work as a unique resource for resolving crises of meaning and value that threatened other cultural or social goods. The self-understanding of the modern humanities didn’t merely take shape in response to a perceived crisis; it also made crisis a core part of its project. Through this critical, historical perspective, Permanent Crisis can take scholars and anyone who cares about the humanities beyond the usual scolding, exhorting, and hand-wringing into clearer, more effective thinking about the fate of the humanities. Building on ideas from Max Weber and Friedrich Nietzsche to Helen Small and Danielle Allen, Reitter and Wellmon dig into the very idea of the humanities as a way to find meaning and coherence in the world.

About the speakers:

Paul Reitter teaches in the German department at Ohio State University. He is the author of several books, including Bambi’s Jewish Roots, and has edited and translated many others. His writing has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Bookforum, and The Paris Review. He is currently working on a new English translation of Marx’s Capital (Vol. 1), which he is coediting with Paul North.

Chad Wellmon teaches in the German department at the University of Virginia. He has published widely on the history of higher education and recently co-edited the anthology The Rise of the Research University. He is also the author of several books, including Organizing Enlightenment: Information Overload and The Invention of the Modern Research University.

Sharon Marcus teaches at Columbia University, where she is the Orlando Harriman Professor of English and Comparative Literature, specializing in nineteenth-century British and French culture. Her scholarship analyzes the cultural assignment of value in domains as diverse as architecture, social relationships, literary criticism, and performance culture. Marcus is the author of Apartment Stories: City and Home in Nineteenth-Century Paris and London (University of California Press, 1999); Between Women: Marriage, Desire, and Friendship in Victorian England (Princeton University Press, 2007); and The Drama of Celebrity (Princeton University Press, 2019).

“Permanent Crisis. The Humanities in a Disenchanted Age” is funded by the DAAD from funds of the German Federal Foreign Office (AA).


Location & Time

Friday, October 29, 2021, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM EDT

Virtual Event

Please Register here.

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