Presence - or How the Eternal Crisis of the Humanities Can Come to an Ending

Lecture by Hans Ulrich Gumbrect, Albert Guérard Professor in Literature in the Departments of Comparative Literature, French and Italian, German, and Spanish and Portuguese at Stanford University and Zeppelin University, Germany.

How old is the so-called "crisis" of the Humanities? Is this crisis a condition for their survival? Or would we be better of just declaring the Humanities dead?

The proverbial "Crisis" of the Humanities has not only been existing since their first emergence, discussions triggered by it soon also became a way for them to survive. For a change, the question should be asked, in the present situation and without any duplicity, whether, as an institution with a historical beginning, it is not preferable to declare the Humanities dead and look for a fresh start. In other words: can "presence" occupy the place of "meaning" in an intellectual environment that finds itself both in discontinuity and in continuity with the Humanities?


Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht is the Albert Guérard Professor in Literature in the Departments of Comparative Literature and of French & Italian (and by courtesy, he is affiliated with the Department of Iberian and Latin American Cultures/ILAC, the Department of German Studies, and the Program in Modern Thought & Literature).

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