What good are the arts? Why should we care about the past? Two faculty members of Harvard University, Martin Puchner, a professor of English and comparative literature, and Maya Jasanoff, a professor of history, converse on how humanity has sought to understand and transmit to future generations not just the "know-how" of life but the "know-why"--the meaning and purpose of our existence, as expressed in art, architecture, religion, and philosophy.
The history of culture is one of mixing, sharing, and borrowing. From Nefertiti’s lost city and the empire of Alexander the Great to 20th-century Nigerian theater and Modernist poetry, Puchner and Jasanoff explore how contact among different peoples has driven artistic innovation in every era—while, they contend, cultural policing and purism have more often undermined the very societies they tried to protect.
Puchner’s new book Culture: The Story of Us, From Cave Art to K-Pop (W. W. Norton & Co.) is available for purchase.
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