In her new essay for The Signal House Edition, Professor of English, Theatre, International Affairs, and East Asian Languages and Cultures Alexa Alice Joubin writes that "Great stories are often strangers at home. The best of them defamiliarize banal experiences and everyday utterances while offering something recognizable through a new language and form. And stories, like people, travel far and wide."
She argues that a humanities education is more important than ever in the era of globalization, as it helps students understand their partners through the stories they tell. A humanities education also enhances one’s skills in critical thinking, civil debate, and understanding narratives, which are vital for a democratic society founded upon government accountability and rational citizen participation.
As a specialist in Shakespeare, she also notes that in Robben Island jail, Nelson Mandela’s fellow prisoners signed their names next to their favorite passages in his smuggled copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare, and the U.S. Department of Defense chose to tour the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s production of Macbeth to thirteen U.S. military bases in 2004. From literary ambiguity that allows expression under oppressive regimes to tales of recurring human struggle, a humanities education challenges us to ask ourselves who we are, and what we are to do. Read Dr. Joubin's full essay for The Signal House Edition.