Public Humanities! Whatever for?
And how does one get one’s foot inside the door?
Perhaps we’d learn to talk the talk like Ted,
Or at the least come out with an op-ed.
Martin argued, with his usual verve,
That theatre studies is behind the curve.
Amidst the blast of social media chatter,
To survive scholars have to show we matter.
Might crossover books emerge from inkhorn rubble,
Although we can’t all write a Gender Trouble?
With enrollments plummeting, let freedom ring!
Public Humanities is now a thing.
P. Carl put forward a somewhat different plan:
The secret is Becoming a White Man.
We learned that hope and terror are both stageable,
And all strategic plans are interchangeable.
Belize in Angels drove some of us bananas,
While in Iran “these two roommates have traumas.”
We must perform discomfort but reconceive it—
Now that white men have bodies but can’t believe it.
Sarah gave us a sobering reminder:
Performing selves are visible on Grindr.
Once social media picks all our locks,
We might as well be shrunken in a box.
Inside the new post-digital social order
Everyone’s a mediated performer;
But when space for agency seems non-existent,
Keep theatricality visible and resistant!
Next, we looked to Stephen G to teach us
How to write a best seller on Lucretius.
What to do when it becomes a burden
To sound like you’re not translated from the German?
Reassuringly, the answer was a short one:
Just get yourself an editor from Norton!
Your prose will soon be effortlessly fleet,
(As long as there’s a bomb under the seat).
Alexis starred in her own leading feature,
Converting us to mediocre theatre.
200 shows a year? Allay your fears:
You might even make a friend every five years.
Oppressed by nameless tyrants, Sessions, Bannon,
We helped Alexis build her theatre canon.
What counts as excellence? She gave top marks
To none other than Suzan-Lori Parks,
Even as the Times in all its bounty
Somehow found room for August: Osage County.
Now we’d found our Mellonite sea legs,
Luke M. got us sold on hooks and pegs.
He also counseled, much to our surprise,
The key to prose is never to revise—
Re-drafting’s sure to make your writing worsen,
And everyone sounds the same in the first person.
Graham solidified our education
With experiments in sustained “eludication.”
Since all humanities have become sciences,
Instead of outreach we need new alliances.
With the Right poised as higher ed’s attacker,
It’s always good to read more Schleiermacher,
And if Princeton takes your public just so far,
The hoi polloi can sing some Derrida.
Lest the Great Work of theorizing tax us,
We ended up with some much needed praxis.
Helen got us off to a great start,
Teaching the body scan to works of art;
Then, having set them free their paralysis,
We pivoted to applied systems analysis.
If Humanities must find a wider range,
Why not use them versus climate change?
In technocrats we trust, but—damn it, Janet!—
Only new narratives will save the planet.
We raised our glasses, sang, and celebrated,
Feeling pleasantly remediated.
Licensed to beat back cultural barbarians,
We graduate as public humanitarians.
June 22, 2018