"In Defense of Humanism: Value in the Arts and Letters" is a response to the critique of traditional humanism, and particularly its cultural dimension, which has been at the heart of intellectual discourse for the past decade. In simple, clear language, Richard Etlin articulates the nature of aesthetic experience through analysis of works in a wide variety of media, including painting, sculpture, architecture, drawing, literature, and dance. Establishing categories for determining value in the arts and letters, Etlin also explores the operations of the creative process in a discussion of artistic genius. He reaffirms the transcendent moral and enduring qualities in great works of art. Etlin offers, moreover, a critique of the fundamental premises of the post-structuralist thinkers, including Jacques Derrida, Stanley Fish, Hayden White, Pierre Bourdieu, and Edward W. Said, whose work is placed within the context of modern intellectual history.
"This book is marked by a refreshing clarity of style and a remarkably wide range of reference." Choice "In Defense of Humanism is a cool, clear breeze blowing some fairly foul-smelling fog from the corridors of the academy. In scholarly fields marked by obscurity, conformity, and eagerness not to offend, Etlin is willing to walk straight in, speak plainly, and raise the right issues. This is a wonderfully offensive book." Denis Dutton, Philosophy and Literature