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The Laws of CoolKnowledge Work and the Culture of Information$
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Alan Liu

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780226486987

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226487007.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 May 2022

Historicizing Cool

Historicizing Cool

Humanities in the Information Age

(p.301) Chapter 10 Historicizing Cool
The Laws of Cool

Alan Liu

University of Chicago Press

This chapter speculates about the future of humanities education and the future of aesthetics. What will be the future role of humanities education in the age of knowledge work? What will be the role of such education now that the older, universalist mode of humanistic inquiry has been inflected toward difference, flexibility, and contingency by those movements that are the uniquely academic version of post-industrialism: post-structuralism and cultural criticism? A gigantic distance exists between the cool and the educational system. Cool is an ethos that starts as early as daycare and primary school, matures in high school, and becomes adept in college. Cool is nothing if not closely bound to the schooling system. Yet cool is anything but identified with schooling as such. Rather, it is a parallel system of learning—or just as accurately, anti-learning—that turns away from an educational system it believes represents dominant knowledge culture, toward a popular culture whose corporate and media conglomerates, ironically, are dominant knowledge culture.

Keywords:   humanities, aesthetics, knowledge work, cool, knowledge culture, post-industrialism, post-structuralism, cultural criticism, learning, humanities education

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