An Open Letter to the Lieutenant-Governor of Kentucky

Jenean HamptonYesterday we did a post on Jenean Hampton’s recent comments about history majors.

Over at his blog “An Historian Goes to the Movies,” Andrew Larsen has written an open letter to Kentucky’s Lieutenant-Governor.

Here is a taste:

Dear Lt Gov. Hampton,

You probably don’t know me. I run a modest little blog where I talk about history and film. But I’m also a professional historian. I teach history at the college level. I’d like to think I know a few things about teaching history.

So I was distressed when I read an interview you gave recently in which you said, in reference to university degree programs, “I would not be studying history. Unless, you have a job lined up. Unless there’s somebody looking for a history major. And there are some places that are looking for that sort of wide background, but…” Elsewhere in the interview, you compare studying French literature unfavorably to studying electrical engineering, and you seem to say that universities shouldn’t subsidize the study of the Humanities with tax dollars.

There are a lot of things in that interview I disagree with, but let me focus on just that quote and the assumptions underlining it. Your comment reveals that you, like a lot of people, don’t see much value in studying history, that it’s something one does purely for personal enjoyment. You seem to think that studying history doesn’t really have much value in terms of a career, unless one wants to be a history teacher.

But a lot of people would beg to differ. Those who have studied the past at a university understand that it has a great deal of value in a wide range of fields.

Read the rest here.