Study Guide

Harold Bloom - Save the Humanities

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Save the Humanities

This group treats the crisis in the humanities like it's galvanizing a Congolese rebel army. The members meet at will for hand wringing, group sob fests, and bursts of anger in a "safe, supportive environment." Together, group has identified a huge problem in education—namely, that the humanities are a sinking ship.

Allan Bloom (no relation) and Harold Bloom


A. Bloom opened a kettle of fish with his book, The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students. H. Bloom took it to the next level, and now he leads a book group highlighting a favorite Western classic, which usually means reading and rereading Hamlet. Even if members are tired of the play, they bite their tongues. The two Blooms had a few minor disagreements over Nietzsche, but they worked through it.

Martha Nussbaum


This sharp-as-a-whip philosopher records minutes and keeps the group on task. Though she tries to keep her chin up, emotions sometimes become too much as the group addresses poignant subjects like education and respect for the humanities as the foundation of democracy. Sniff.

Saul Bellow


Bellow keeps track of funds and is just grateful that someone is upholding standards. He doesn't agree with Allan's whole thing about rock music ruining the minds of young people, but he liked him enough to make him the main character in his novel Ravelstein.

John Searle

Media Liaison

Searle's connections to the New York Review of Books allow him to promote the cause of the group—nothing short of saving the very integrity of American education itself. He likes to point out the irony that writers like Socrates and Marx—once hailed as "liberating"—are now considered oppressive.

Jesse Jackson


This rabble-rouser really stirred things up when he held a rally at Stanford leading clusters of women and minorities to protest curriculum requirements for Western civ. Chants of "Hey hey, ho ho, Western culture's got to go" rang through the air.

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