The liberal arts, simplified


The distinction of a degree in the humanities is something everyone should aspire to. While other fields might actually prove useful, none prove as capable of making everyone uncomfortable. For instance, at your next family reunion, inform your extended family that you’re about to get a degree in art history and just watch them writhe and try to come up with something non-condescending to say.

But, why waste thousands of dollars and several years toiling at it to end up with little more than piece of paper and a crisis about what to do with your life? Instead, everybody can have all the benefits of a humanities education without ever taking a single class! All you have to do is the following:

  • Memorize Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. It forms the basis of everything critical anything.
  • Become passingly acquainted with Freud. We humans want sex. And death. And we’re messed up because of our parents. And cigars are not, in fact, ever just cigars.
  • Understand, glancingly, feminist theory. Men oppress women. And have always. Women must reclaim their own space. You should probably read “The Yellow Wallpaper”, too.
  • Embrace postmodernism. Truth doesn’t exist. There’s no single, secret meaning to be found by all. Everything can be broken to its constituent parts.
  • Know some stuff about Jesus. People wrote about him. And then painted him. And set up a church to him in Rome. Uh, then some other stuff happened.

Sure there are other things you’ll need to learn if you really want to be a humanities type. You’ll have to learn to watch movies and then say things about them. And, you might have to learn to write a coherent paper. But, pretty much, get those five things in a row, and you’re just as prepared as any of us to enter the scholarly discourse. Congratulations!


Heidi said...


I have nothing intelligent to say except that. I think I need to get another Humanities degree...

daine said...

Where were you in 2000? I could have used the heads-up then.

alea said...

heidi: Really? I think you just need to realize that one is more, much more, than enough.

daine: not around, apparently. But, hey, you've made something out of it, haven't you, mr. medical school?

daine said...

. . .and I'm sure that phonology and the history of the English Language will be indispensable as I become a doctor.

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