Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 2014


This essay is an examination of the multifaceted reasons humanities education in American colleges is losing standing and funding. Historical, cultural, and philosophical perspectives are used to analyze the grounds that have justified the decreasing levels of support for humanities education. Historically, there is no longer any external justification provided, as there was when Sputnik was launched and the Cold War was endured. Culturally, the high culture model of ascension through the accrual of cultural signifiers is no longer the dominant form of raising one’s status, as it was when the humanities could be justified as cultural initiation. Philosophically, market-based capitalism has become the dominant framework for the current vision of humanity under neoliberal ideology, and the humanities is being cut as being tangential to that purpose.

The thesis is organized in an expanding framework, starting from a historical discussion to a cultural analysis to a philosophical examination. Many types of theorists and thinkers are used, including Marxists, post structuralists, feminists, critical race theorists, literary theorists, and educational philosophers. Reading and personal experience are the primary sources of research. This project concludes with a searching series of reflections on how humanities education has been compromised and what new perspectives can be incorporated in order to renew it. In summary, marketization must be disrupted with the use of text-based education that refuses commodification by way of a relational pedagogy.