The process commonly referred to as the ‘democratization of culture’ involves not only a pluralization of the categories of art and culture, that is, the acceptance of a much wider range of activities as falling within these categories. But it also involves a fundamental challenge to the claim to speak with authority on any relevant topic in these areas. A thoroughgoing relativism about cultural judgement is sometimes taken to follow from this: instead of being met with a form of deference, such judgements are more likely to elicit the aggressively defiant rejoinder: “Who says?” This shift has profound consequences for universities, especially for the study of the arts and humanities, where the pursuit of disciplined understanding involves claiming a certain kind of authority for good arguments and validated evidence. Stefan Collini will explore some of the consequences of this development, focusing particularly on the public role of academic scholars in a democratic society.
Pascal Gielen, Professor of Cultural Sociology at Antwerp Research Institute of the Arts, and Liesbeth Korthals Altes, Professor of General Literature at the Groningen University, will give a short reaction to the lecture and elaborate on the theme: what is the role of arts and culture in present society and in education?
Sara Strandvad is the moderator of this lecture.
Stefan Collini is Professor Emeritus of Intellectual History and English Literature at Cambridge University, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the author of, among other books Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain (2006), Common Reading: Critics, Historians, Publics (2008), and Common Writing: Literary Culture and Public Debate (2016), as well as a frequent contributor to The London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, The Nation, and other publications. His 2012 book What Are Universities For? and its sequel Speaking of Universities (2017), have become major points of reference in international debates about higher education.
This Arts Culture and Media 3rd Lustrum Anniversary Lecture is organised in cooperation with Studium Generale Groningen