When Theory Gets You Shut Out Of Society’s Decisions

For much of the past 25 years, academic humanists have lived in a world of theory. But theory has had less and less impact on the direction of our culture, and some academics are wondering if a new direction is called for. So recently, an intellectual “town hall” was convened in Chicago to talk things over. “Has theory forsaken ‘sociopolitical engagement’ for a ‘therapeutic turn’ to ethics and the care of the psyche? Should humanists devote themselves to securing ‘some space for the aesthetic in the face of the overwhelming forces of mass culture and entertainment’? Have the Internet and biotechnology rendered both human nature and printed dissertations obsolete?”