The humanities, you might have heard, are in peril. Deep peril. We're talking the long, dark night of the comp lit departments, here. According to David Brooks, they are "being bulldozed by an unforgiving job market" while simultaneously "committing suicide" via a nasty overdose of race and gender studies. Brooks's New York Times colleague Verlyn Klinkenborg concurs that "the teaching of humanities has fallen on hard times." Speaking at Brandeis University's commencement last month, The New Republic's Leon Wieseltier asked lamentfully: "Has there ever been a moment in American life when the humanities were cherished less, and has there ever been a moment in American life when the humanities were needed more?"
Meanwhile, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has produced a humanities rescue plan.
With all this feverish talk of decline, one might expect there to be some evidence that the ranks of English and philosophy majors are, in fact, collapsing -- or even noticeably thinning out. The problem is, there isn't any, at least when it comes to undergraduate education. By the standards of recent history, the humanities seem to be faring just fine on campus.