With support from the University of Richmond

History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Historian John Fea’s twitterstorm in defense of the NEH

Related Links

● Former GOP congressman Jim Leach defends NEH

John Fea's extended article in the Times Higher Ed

Critics of government funding for the humanities like to point to the specialized scholarly research funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities(NEH).  The argument goes something like this: “We don’t want our tax dollars going to fund a study of the Oxford comma in late 19th-century Victorian literature.”

I am sure that a scholar working on the Oxford comma could convince other scholars (who sit on the NEH funding committees) that his or her research is very important to society. But such a project will be a hard sell for ordinary Americans concerned about how their tax money is being spent.  (Please don’t misunderstand me here.  I am not arguing that this kind of scholarship is not valuable.  I am just trying to understand how this project might look to someone like my high-school educated father).

But criticizing the public funding of the humanities and the mission of the NEH based on its work with academic scholars fails to acknowledge the fact that most NEH money goes to programs that, whether we realize it or not, often have a direct or indirect influence on our lives.

I tweeted (@johnfea1) about some of this tonight in the wake of the news that President Donald Trump wants to eliminate the NEH.  Here are some of those tweets:

It’s time to call your representative in Congress.

Read entire article at The Way of Improvement Leads Home