The CHR’s longstanding commitment to the work of arts education has been recognised by a leading scholar in a prestigious literary journal. James Chandler, Barbara E. & Richard J. Franke Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of English and Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, has acknowledged the CHR in a recent publication titled ‘The Question of Sensibility”. The piece was published in New Literary History, 49, 4 (2018).
Drawing on Gayatri Spivak’s call for an aesthetic education in the age of globalisation and relating this to the work undertaken by the CHR, Chandler recognises the CHR’s contribution to a global humanities debate.
‘[W]itness Premesh Lalu’s exciting project at the University of the Western Cape, which seeks to supplement, even to displace, the role of political theory in shaping South Africa’s future by way of an ambitious program of arts education. With this renewed commitment to aesthetic education comes a revived interest in sensibility. Confronting what she calls today’s “most pernicious presupposition . . . that globalization has happily happened in every aspect of our lives,” Spivak takes her stand in the domain of sensibility: “Globalization can never happen to the sensory equipment of the experiencing being,” she argues, and “only an aesthetic education” can provide the needed preparation in this domain (AE 2). For Lalu, who cites Spivak among his theoretical exemplars, the problem is similar: “The renewed effort to constitute the field of aesthetic education to counter the slide into a consultancy culture . . . is bringing scholars in the humanities into a more direct relation to emerging and ongoing artistic practices and thinking in the world.” What is called for, writes Lalu, is not just a “planetary library” but also “a planetary sensibility.”’(467)