Oh, the Humanities!

The short film above reminded me of my university days, and, more specifically, of the light-hearted enmity between hard-working sicence students and slacker arts students, as typified in the jokes below:  

Q: Why do humanities students leave their curtains closed all morning? A: It gives them something to do in the afternoon.  

Q: What do you say to a humanities graduate? A: “Can I have fries with that?”  

While those studying, say, chemistry, worked all the hours they could fit into one day, and then frantically drank as much as quickly as they could in whatever time was left in the evenings, us English Lit layabouts had to suffer through anything up to 12 hours per week of lectures or seminars. One semester I had a grand total of 6 hours per week scheduled, and my studies finished on Wednesday lunchtime. Which is not to say that I spent the rest of the time lounging around, drinking and smoking, watching daytime TV. In fact, I was arguably busier while at university than I have ever been since, mostly due to my enthusiastic involvment in various student media (mostly the campus TV station, plus some reviews and interviews for the student newspaper). This was a much better use of my time because a) it was fun; b) it led directly to a brief but enjoyable career in audiovisual media in London immediately after graduation.  

I’m sure most humanities students know full well that their degrees will only qualify them for jobs as humanities teachers, but that’s not really the point, is it? I’m sure (I hope) there are plenty of science students who take their courses for the thrill, satisfaction and intellectual stimulation they provide, rather than for just the promise of a well-paid secure job at the end of it. 

Law students, on the other hand…


2 thoughts on “Oh, the Humanities!

  1. V-Grrrl October 23, 2007 / 6:01 pm

    In America, we’re not “humanities” students but “liberal arts” majors, and yes, those who say a liberal arts degree and $5 will get you a cup of coffee still exist. One person said to me, that there are bread winners in the world and then there are cake eaters, and I was a cake eater. Oh, I wish I’d had a cream pie to toss into his face….

    Funny thought–what would the business, science, engineering, and law types spend their hard earned money on if it weren’t for liberal arts majors? We’re the ones that write the books they read, make the films they watch and discuss, put on the plays they see on weekend, are consulted when they want to decorate their fancy houses, ensure that the cars and appliances they buy are suitably slick and attractive, design the clothes they can’t live without, the status bags and luggage they carry, the paintings they hang on their walls, and the all the other accoutrements of success that they demand. So why must they earn all the money? So they can pay us.

    As for English Lit majors, we had a nice saying about them: English Lit majors are NOVEL lovers. Ahem.

    Long live the artists! Let them eat cake!


  2. simonlitton October 24, 2007 / 9:44 am

    “Liberal Arts”? And what about the Conservative Arts?


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