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Education, Entertainment, and Exploitation: Adventures in Attempting to Promote an Appreciation for the Humanities Among the General Public
April 22, 2013 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Honorary Fellow (2012-2013)
History and Humanistic Studies, UW-Green Bay
In an era when a “business model” is dominant in higher education and there are increasing demands by the public and politicians to steer students towards majors that supposedly lead directly to jobs, it is vital for humanists to articulate to the general public the value of the humanities. However, the audience directly reached by most academics is limited to their own students in their classes and fellow academics who read their research. The principal way that the general public is exposed to humanities disciplines is usually through various forms of media, which are often more interested in sensationalism, entertainment, and making money than in providing accurate or responsible information. Academics who work with the media must constantly negotiate between the desire to reach and influence a larger audience and media distortion and exploitation of one’s discipline. This talk will explore this tension, using as examples my own recent experiences with different methods of reaching the general public, including documentaries, TV and internet news stories, public lectures, popular books, and video courses.
Gregory S. Aldrete (Princeton B.A, 1988.; Univ. of Michigan M.A. and Ph.D. 1995) is the Frankenthal Professor of History and Humanistic Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. His books include: Linen Armor in Ancient World: The Linothorax Mystery (2013 with S. Bartell and A. Aldrete), The Long Shadow of Antiquity: What Have the Greeks and Romans Have Done For Us? (with A. Aldrete), Gestures and Acclamation in Ancient Rome, Floods of the Tiber in Ancient Rome, Daily Life in the Roman City: Rome, Pompeii, and Ostia, and the Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life I: The Ancient World (editor). Aldrete was awarded NEH Humanities Fellowships for 2004/5 and 2012/13, was a member of two NEH seminars held at the American Academy in Rome, was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome, received the Award for Excellence in Teaching at the College Level from the American Philological Association, is a National Lecturer for the Archaeological Institute of America, was a Wisconsin System Teaching Fellow and a UWGB Teaching Scholar, and was chosen as a recipient of both the Founders Association Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Founders Association Award for Excellence in Scholarship, the highest awards given by his university.