It’s a question we pose often. Not only do we believe in the benefit of reflection on topics that help us further our understanding of ourselves and others, we welcome hearing different perspectives about the impact of the public humanities. We asked Stanley Katz, Princeton University Professor, former New Jersey Council for the Humanities Board Chairman and gubernatorial appointee, and humanist, how the public humanities impacted his life.
“Well, I suppose I am like the fellow in Moliere’s Bourgeois Gentilhomme, since I was doing the public humanities before the term was invented. Actually, I was committed to the humanities as an undergraduate student, although I could not have defined “humanities” at the time. I instinctively gravitated to the fields of knowledge that dealt with human values, and although I have changed my field of study repeatedly, the constant in my life is that all the fields are humanistic. I am interested in the reasons why people make the important choices in their lives, and that is the concern of the humanist. In my case, it has been wonderful to make a living as a practicing humanist, but it is what I would have been doing in whatever career I chose. Doing the humanities in and with the public is what gives me the greatest pleasure.”
Dr. Katz has made countless contributions to the field of public humanities. To learn more about Dr. Katz, check out his biography here.