Attention: This site looks better in the latest Mozilla or Internet Explorer.

The Humanities Conference 2003

Home | Newsletter | Call for Papers | Register

Presentation Details

 Download: Poster | Brochure 1 | Brochure 2    

Evacuating the Western Center: A Global Context for Teaching Interdisciplinary Humanities

Daniel J. Brooks.

This paper will discuss a model I have developed for teaching a core interdisciplinary Humanities course in a global, rather than a western or "expanded" western context typical of general education programs in U.S. higher education. I argue that the study of cultures outside the realm we identify with is a way of breaking down an instinctive human tendency to fear and distrust people and values that are "other" than those within that realm of identity. This concept, which I call homocentrism (referring to our tendency to identify with those having the same center or value system), is something that contributes to prejudice, xenophobia, racism, sexism, and other manifestations of fear and narrowmindedness. Instead of reinforcing a cultural identity the way that a traditional western Humanities course does, we can increase our awareness of the limitations of a cultural tradition and broaden our perspective to learn more about our own cultural identity as well as other ones by studying culture in a global context. Instead of a particular cultural location, the model uses the development of technology as its organizing principle.


Daniel J. Brooks  (United States)
Professor of English
Department of English
Aquinas College

Brooks is currently Director of the Humanities Program and Professor of English at Aquinas College. His most recent publications are concerned with globalizing the study of culture, including "Evacuating the Center: Global Perspectivism in the Study of Culture" and "Envisioning Interdisciplinary Culture Studies for the 21st Century: A Modest Proposal,” both in the Journal of General Education

  • culture
  • globalization
  • imperialism
  • chauvinism
  • xenophobia
  • cultural identity

(30 min Conference Paper, English)