Welcome from the Director
Amid the titanic shifts that now characterize our modern, globally entangled lives, there is a plainly felt need for the humanities – a need for the work of preservation, transmission, interpretation and creation in that distinctive place where the human emerges as neither a data point nor a mathematical equation. Indeed, thanks to new media technologies that have forged new connections and new communities, the core objects of the humanities – texts, performances, artifacts, recordings, images – are now more readily, widely and cheaply available than they have ever been. These same technologies, moreover, offer us new tools that enable the humanities to move into our communities, well beyond their traditional institutional homes in museums, libraries and universities.
This, in short, a moment of rapid change ripe with potential – both luminous and hazardous. Indeed, when we consider the various claims now circulating about a crisis in the humanities, it might be more accurate to say that there is a crisis in the traditional humanities disciplines. Specialization of course, however, must be counterbalanced by what Virginia Woolf called the realization that human life is not “a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged,” but “a luminous halo.” After decades of specialization in which the gig lamps have perhaps been too neatly arranged, the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities seeks to open a space for collaboration, research synthesis, deep thinking and community engagement around the vital, distinctive kinds of knowledge, practices and questions the humanities offer.
— Sean Latham, Director