By Kurt Spellmeyer

Argues that greater schooling must abandon the "culture wars" if it hopes to handle the foremost crises of the century.

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Additional resources for Arts of Living: Reinventing the Humanities for the Twenty-First Century

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Among the bodies Eastman found on the frozen fields was one severely wounded man still living, who begged him to fill his pipe. ”26 The newspapers told the story differently, but same social forces that had given the papers their chance to be heard gave Eastman a voice as well. People like Charles Eastman belonged to the first truly modern generation in America—the first generation to lose a world and then to set out in search of a new one. Eastman’s father was a warrior who had spent four years in a military prison and then returned to the Dakota Territory, a newly converted Christian.

I will certainly not be the first person to observe that art making in America has been captured by an elaborate system that involves elite patrons, exclusionary museums and media outlets, and critical gurus who have, at times, striven mightily to normalize tastes and control the direction of the arts from above. All of these vectors came together most smoothly and effectively with the rise abstract expressionism, a movement guided by the criticism of theorists like Clement Greenberg. 34 Even today, when the arts have grown ungovernably diverse (a triumph for the arts, in my view), many superb artists remain outside the circle of public attention—and financial viability—simply because they fail to do what certain critics sanction.

A century earlier, such a conflict would have been unthinkable. Institutions like the Office of Indian Affairs did not yet exist, and even the professions remained poorly elaborated. Physicians and dentists, often practicing alone without degrees, were hardly distinguished from barbers. Attorneys like Abraham Lincoln learned their law in the courtrooms rather than the lecture halls. And the early forms of the nowubiquitous research university could be found only in Germany, where wealthy young men like the future historian Henry Adams went abroad to study.

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