'Saving Our Heritage': Cathy Davidson on Proposed Defunding of NEH

Distinguished Professor Cathy Davidson (English) argues against the Trump administration’s effective elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities a new Inside Higher Ed op-ed.

Allocating “zero dollars” to the NEH in the administration’s proposed budget puts at risk an agency that has served as the “national steward of America’s cultural heritage” for 50 years, according to Davidson and her coauthor, Francine Berman, the Edward P. Hamilton Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
 
“Is that the value we place on our cultural inheritance and its future?” the authors ask. “Zero? That is the question we must ask ourselves as a nation.”
 
The NEH has supported the transcription and reprinting of U.S. writers including Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Willa Cather, and Ernest Hemingway, the authors note. In addition, the agency helped fund “the documentation and histories of a broad spectrum of Americans—from the editing of the personal papers of seven founding fathers to histories of Midwestern farm families, steel workers in Colorado, and coal miners in West Virginia.”
 
NEH grants have supported the preservation of the Louis Armstrong House in Flushing, Queens, as well as the most comprehensive digital archive of the September 11 attacks, the authors note.
 
“It takes time to create a collective history. It is far easier to lose one—through fires, floods, terrorism, or politics,” the authors write in their conclusion. “History, identity, heritage, and memory—the heart of a whole people—are at stake as we contemplate the continuation of the NEH.”
 
The coauthors are members of the National Council on the Humanities. Davidson, a renowned scholar of cultural history and technology, is also the director of The Futures Initiative at the GC and the director of HASTAC@CUNY
 

Submitted on: MAR 21, 2017

Category: General GC News