New branch for humanities

December 4, 2014

Like Sarah Churchwell (“Humanities: why the study of human culture still matters”, Opinion, 13 November), I am not immune to the appeal of a good read from within the literature’s considerable variety. She may concur that we won’t exhaust this variety soon; for instance, the settings, roles, action and jargon in The Hound of the Baskervilles don’t reappear in places passed through by retired Major Jack Reacher. Such diversity seems a weighty problem for a practical slant on the discipline.

If the humanities are to improve communication and help to “reframe our complicated world”, they cannot rely solely on language used within the literature, or even on precise interpretations of such language: the next problematic social setting encountered is likely to be very different from the last. Instead, Churchwell’s discipline needs a formal means to construct precise language in real time – practical jargon assembled on the spot by people aiming to reframe their world via serious debate.

Neil Richardson
Kirkheaton

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