The National Endowment for the Humanities Does Not Just Promote Obscure Scholarship

George 1

LaSalle U historian George Boudreau runs a NEH-funded summer seminar for teachers on Ben Franklin.  Here’s George with teachers in the Powel House in Philadelphia 

Critics of government funding for the humanities like to point to the specialized scholarly research funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).  The argument goes something like this: “We don’t want our tax dollars going to fund a study of the Oxford comma in late 19th-century Victorian literature.”

I am sure that a scholar working on the Oxford comma could convince other scholars (who sit on the NEH funding committees) that his or her research is very important to society. But such a project will be a hard sell for ordinary Americans concerned about how their tax money is being spent.  (Please don’t misunderstand me here.  I am not arguing that this kind of scholarship is not valuable.  I am just trying to understand how this project might look to someone like my high-school educated father).

But criticizing the public funding of the humanities and the mission of the NEH based on its work with academic scholars fails to acknowledge the fact that most NEH money goes to programs that, whether we realize it or not, often have a direct or indirect influence on our lives.

I tweeted (@johnfea1) about some of this tonight in the wake of the news that President Donald Trump wants to eliminate the NEH.  Here are some of those tweets:

It’s time to call your representative in Congress.