Knowing Shakespeare by heart may not be the best argument for humanities education, but when you're standing under a tree in the wilderness getting rained on, it will do. ====================================
This is some kind of a fever dream, or a reality that exists in few places outside Stanford U. I don't know anyone who is still teaching Shakespeare.
I recently attended a seminar conducted mainly by professors of English literature discussing their work in the classroom. These people are clearly bored by English literature. In their classrooms, they teach just about everything but English literature.
They teach mainly multicultural empowerment. This means a kind of chop suey made up of bits and pieces of history, economics, sociology, fantasy and socialism (please forgive the redundancy). Lots and lots of socialism. But, no Shakespeare.
Now that I think about, my son attended a competitive middle school in NYC which richly deserved its vaunted reputation, at the time. Guess which one author my son never read in three years at a middle school for the "gifted and talented" called "The Mark Twain Middle School"? Yup, you guessed it: Mark Twain.
Instead of Mark Twain, these gifted and talented children were made to read true crap. I can still recall some of the titles,
I am reminded of a question once put to The Mahatma. When asked, "What do you think of Western Civilization", he replied, "I think it would be a good idea." That is just what I think of an humanities education.