2004 Jefferson Lecture

Helen Vendler, the A. Kingsley Porter University Professor of English at Harvard, yesterday delivered the Jefferson Lecture in the Humantiies, the highest honor bestowed by the federal government for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.

The Lecture has nothing to do with Pittsburgh. I'm just wowed by fabulous defenses of the role of the arts and the humanities in American education and culture. From the lecture: "Just as art is only half itself without us--its audience, its analysts, its scholars--so we are only half ourselves without it. When, in this country, we become fully ourselves, we will have balanced our great accomplishments in progressive abstraction--in mathematics and the natural sciences--with an equally great absorption in art, and in the disciplines ancillary to art. The arts, though not progressive, aim to be eternal, and sometimes are. And why should the United States not have as much eternity as any other nation? As Marianne Moore said of excellence, 'It has never been confined to one locality.'"


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at]gmail.com. Mike also blogs at Madisonian.net, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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