Worth a Read: F. R. Leavis (on C.P. Snow, technology and… Digital Humanities?)

I’m reading F. R. Leavis (of Scrutiny fame) at present–the book Nor Shall My Sword: Discourses on Pluralism, Compassion and Social Hope (1972, New York: Barnes & Noble[Harper & Row]) to be precise.

So many reasons you’d want read this. First: it includes the Richmond Lecture he delivered as a response to C.P. Snow’s 1959 Rede lecture that popularized the notion of ‘The Two Cultures’ and he LAMBASTES Snow, not without a certain dose of humor I would add; what Leavis considers to be Snow’s laughable career as a novelist, the fact that Snow could even think to talk about literature when he knows nothing about it, the first chapter alone had me in stitches–not that it’s written that way, but the criticisms are so direct and specific [perhaps personal] (and apt) that it is amusing to read.

But there are other reasons to read the book, which compiles several essays together and is not purely an attack on Snow. One of Snow’s statements (evidence for him of the split between two cultures) had been that Continue reading

The Two Cultures: C. P. Snow and the State of Interdisciplinary Collaboration

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This is an obligatory reference for contemporary academics working across more than one discipline–there should be a kind of ‘required freshman reading’ (ours for freshmen next year is Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer–which I think Chapel Hill used previously if I got the right information) in which new faculty members have to read C.P. Snow’s book The Two Cultures as part of their orientation.

Snow was a scientist/physicist who also thought of himself as a writer/novelist, and gave a lecture in 1959 that was later turned into a book. In the lecture he discussed the gap between the humanities and the hard sciences–the mutual lack of understanding in general terms. This is the kind of thing that Continue reading