The argument of this article is that receptivity, which I define as the capacity to receive and experience the greatest products of the human intelligence, is the single most significant principle that ought to guide research and teaching in the humanities. Receptivity entails the fullest possible response—affective, intellectual, and aesthetic—to a wide range of visual art, music, literature, and systems of thought from any and all human cultures. Intelligence, as I employ the word here, encompasses all the possible ways in which human beings can make sense of their own experience of reality and develop forms of cultural expression. Some of these forms might not appear to be intellectual in the narrower sense of “cerebral,” but they all involve the human intelligence in this larger sense.
The first part of this essay will advocate a shift in focus—away from a sterile academic formalism and toward a more finely tuned receptivity to the “raw materials” of the humanities. The second section will use Federico García Lorca to put this argument to the test. Lorca, in my view, is an example of a higly receptive artist—in some sense a theorist of receptivity—and one whose own critical reception exposes the inadequacies of contemporary academic criticism.
I'm working on this article this month. Here is my introduction.