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【卫报】文科生的末日,美国大学大砍人文学科



什么是大学?如果以后的大学,没有人文学科,没有历史、哲学、文化研究、电影研究,只有所谓实用的学科,那它还是大学么?这篇选自《卫报》的文章,提到因为经费不足,美国的部分大学正准备拿人文学科开刀,而同时,却投资几百万美金,用来重新设计学校的校标、网站、指示牌。


文科生的末日,美国大学大砍人文学科


译者:尹子梦

校对:王乐颖

词汇:李林治

策划:朱宇晴


Humanities teach students to think. Where would we be without them?

人文学科教会学生如何思考。如果没有它们,我们该何去何从?


本文选自 The Guardian | 取经号原创翻译

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Humanities departments in America are once again being axed. The reasons, one hears, are economic rather than ideological. It’s not that schools don’t care about the humanities – they just can’t afford them. But if one looks at these institutions’ priorities, one finds a hidden ideology at work.

在美国,人文学科再次遭到大量削减。据说这次是经济原因,而非意识形态。不是学校不在乎人文学科,而是他们负担不起。然而,如果看到这些学校的工作重点,人们就会找到这背后隐藏的意识层面的原因。

axe  /æks/ to get rid of a plan, system, or service, especially in order to save money (尤指为省钱)砍掉,取消,废止


Earlier this month, the State University of New York (Suny) Stony Brook announced a plan to eliminate several of the college’s well-regarded departments for budgetary reasons. Undergraduates will no longer be able to major in comparative literature, cinema and cultural studies or theater arts.

本月初,由于预算方面的原因,纽约州立大学石溪分校宣布了计划,准备取消该校内几个倍受好评的院系。本科生将不能再主修比较文学、电影和文化研究或戏剧艺术。


Three doctoral programs would be cut, and three departments (European languages and literature, Hispanic languages and literature, and cultural studies) would be merged into one. Not only students but faculty will be affected; many untenured teachers would lose their jobs, and doctoral candidates would have to finish their studies elsewhere.

三个博士项目将被取消,三个院系(欧洲语言文学、拉美语言文学和文化研究)将合并成一个。不止学生,教职工也受到影响;许多无任期保障的教师会失去工作,博士研究生要到其他地方完成学业。


This is happening at a time in which high salaries are awarded to college administrators that dwarf those of a junior or even senior faculty member teaching in at-risk departments. That discrepancy can only be explained through ideology. The decision to reduce education to a corporate consumer-driven model, providing services to the student-client, is ideological too.

与此同时,学校的行政人员薪资丰厚,他们的收入远远高过那些在地位不佳的院系中任职的初级教员甚至高级教员。这种矛盾只有从意识层面才能得到解释。使教育等同于以消费者为中心的企业驱动模式,为学生顾客提供服务。这样的决定也是意识层面的。

dwarf  /dwɔːf  dwɔːrf/ v.make (sb/sth) seem small by contrast or distance 使(某人[某物])相比之下显得小


Suny Stony Brook is spending millions on a multiyear program entitled “Far Beyond” that is intended to “rebrand” the college’s image: a redesigned logo and website, new signs, banners and flags throughout the campus. Do colleges now care more about how a school looks and markets itself than about what it teaches? Has the university become a theme park: Collegeland, churning out workers trained to fill particular niches? Far beyond what?

石溪大学投资数百万,支持一个名为 “超越”的多年项目。该项目旨在重塑该校的形象: 校标和网站经过重新设计,学校遍布新指示牌、横幅和旗帜。难道如今的大学比起传授知识更在乎学校形象和品牌营销?难道大学已经变成了“大学乐园”的主题公园,批量生产为填补特定市场空缺的员工?究竟要超越什么?

churn out produce something at a fast rate大量炮制

niche /niːʃ, nɪtʃ  nɪtʃ, niːʃ/ v. shallow recess, esp in a wall (浅的)凹处; (尤指)壁龛


The threat of cuts that Suny Stony Brook is facing is not entirely new. In 2010, Suny Albany announced that it was getting rid of its Russian, classics, theater, French and Italian departments – a decision later rescinded. The University of Pittsburgh has cut its German, classics and religious studies program.

对石溪大学而言,取消学科带来的威胁并不陌生。在2010年,纽约州立大学奥尔巴尼分校宣布计划取消俄语、古典文学、戏剧、法语和意大利语学科,但这一决定后来被撤销。匹茨堡大学也已取消德语、古典文学和宗教研究学科。


This problem has parallels internationally. In the UK, protests greeted Middlesex University’s 2010 decision to phase out its philosophy department. In June 2015, the Japanese minister of education sent a letter to the presidents of the national universities of Japan, suggesting they close their graduate and undergraduate departments in the humanities and social sciences and focus on something more practical.

放眼全球,也有同样问题。在英国,密德萨斯大学于2010年决定逐步取消哲学学科,引发抗议。2015年六月,日本教育部长致信各位日本国立大学校长,建议取消本科和研究生阶段的人文学科和社会科学学科,专注更加实用的学科。


Most recently, the Hungarian government announced restrictions that would essentially make it impossible for the Central European University, funded by George Soros, to function in Budapest.

近期,匈牙利政府颁布了禁令,使乔治·索罗斯资助的中欧大学基本不可能在布达佩斯运营。


These are hard times. Students need jobs when they graduate. But a singular opportunity has been lost if they are denied the opportunity to study foreign languages, the classics, literature, philosophy, music, theater and art. When else in their busy lives will they get that chance?

现在是困难时期。学生毕业后需要工作。但是,如果他们不能在大学学习外语、古典文学、文学、哲学、音乐、戏剧和艺术,那他们就失去了唯一的机会。毕竟在忙碌的生活中,他们哪来其他时间学习这些呢?


Eloquent defenses of the humanities have appeared – essays explaining why we need these subjects, what their loss would mean. Those of us who teach and study are aware of what these areas of learning provide: the ability to think critically and independently; to tolerate ambiguity; to see both sides of an issue; to look beneath the surface of what we are being told; to appreciate the ways in which language can help us understand one another more clearly and profoundly – or, alternately, how language can conceal and misrepresent. They help us learn how to think, and they equip us to live in – to sustain – a democracy.

对人文学科的有力捍卫者出现了——许多议论文阐述了为什么我们需要这些学科,以及失去它们将意味着什么。老师和学生们了解学习这些学科能使我们:获得批判且独立思考能力、宽容歧义、辩证待看问题、透过表面看本质、对语言帮助我们更加透彻和深刻地理解彼此而心怀感恩,或换句话说,了解语言掩饰和歪曲的能力。这些学科帮我们学习如何思考,让我们在民主中生活,也得以维持民主。

eloquent  /ˈeləkwənt/ a. expressing what you mean using clear and effective language 有说服力的


Studying the classics and philosophy teaches students where we come from, and how our modes of reasoning have evolved over time. Learning foreign languages, and about other cultures, enables students to understand how other societies resemble or differ from our own. Is it entirely paranoid to wonder if these subjects are under attack because they enable students to think in ways that are more complex than the reductive simplifications so congenial to our current political and corporate discourse?

研究古典文学和哲学,教导学生人类从哪里来以及我们的论证方式如何随时间而逐步演变。学习外语和他们的文化,能使学生理解其他社会与本土社会的异同。这些学科能让学生用更复杂的方式思考问题,而不是像现在政治或企业演讲那样过于简化,但这些学科却遭到了攻击。是不是我想太多了呢?

resemble  /rɪˈzembəl/ v. be like or similar to (another person or thing) 与(他人或他物)相似; 像… 


I don’t believe that the humanities can make you a decent person. We know that Hitler was an ardent Wagner fan and had a lively interest in architecture. But literature, art and music can focus and expand our sense of what humans can accomplish and create. The humanities teach us about those who have gone before us; a foreign language brings us closer to those with whom we share the planet.

我不相信人文学科就会使人变得正派。 我们知道希特勒是瓦格纳的忠实,也对建筑也有着浓厚的兴趣。 但文学、艺术和音乐可以集中和扩大我们的感知,让我们了解人类可以完成和创造什么。人文学科能使我们了解我们的先人; 一门外语能拉近生活在同一个星球上人们之间的距离。


The humanities can touch those aspects of consciousness that we call intellect and heart – organs seemingly lacking among lawmakers whose views on health care suggest not only zero compassion but a poor understanding of human experience, with its crises and setbacks.

人文学科可以触及我们称之为智慧与情感的意识领域。而一些立法者似乎缺乏这种智慧与情感,他们对待医保不仅没有表现出丝毫同情心,而且对人类面对危机和挫折的经验也理解肤浅。


Courses in the humanities are as formative and beneficial as the classes that will replace them. Instead of Shakespeare or French, there will be (perhaps there already are) college classes in how to trim corporate spending – courses that instruct us to eliminate “frivolous” programs of study that might actually teach students to think.

人文学科的课程与将要取代它们的课程一样重要而且有益。 取代莎士比亚或法语的,将会是(也许早已是)有关如何削减企业支出的大学课程——它们指导我们取消“没用的”学科、可能真正教会学生思考的学科。

formative  /ˈfɔːmətɪv  ˈfɔːr-/ a. having an important and lasting influence on the development of sb’s character 对某人的性格的形成有重要长期影响的


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<原文链接:https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/12/humanities-students-budget-cuts-university-suny>


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