Here’s a pretty slick presentation by Richard E. Miller, the head of the English Department at Rutgers, on the future of the humanities.
I like what he has to say about new media and the humanities (I want a colaboratory), but he somewhat distressingly seems to ignore the role of rhetoric, writing studies, and technical writing in the same. The only scholars mentioned in the presentation are literature scholars, and the type of writing which Miller spotlights is creative writing. According to Miller, what the university has to offer the Wikipedia generation is
sustained study and deep understanding. when you add that to the picture you get human creativity put at the center of the humanities[. . . . The] real function of the humanities is to engage in the act of creativity moment by moment to improve the quality of the world we live in.
The talk sort of reminded me of the ridiculous hand-wringing over the death of reading, where “reading” means “reading literature,” whatever that might be—no one ever seems to get worked up over the death of email at hands of text-messaging or the sad demise of the online message board. Definitions are similarly limited in the presentation, where it appears that the goal of the English Department is to study “literature,” whatever that might be, and the only type of writing worth mentioning is creative writing.