Friday, 16 April 2010

The Last Professors

The Last Professors is equally scathing on the hypocrisy of our disavowed competitiveness. But wait: the People’s Republic of the Humanities, competitive? Donoghue puts it a little more gently, discerning “a collective behaviour that ironically duplicates the very corporate values from which we humanists wish to distance ourselves” (26). Exhibit A: graduate school, which picks the best and brightest and then drives them to despair by demanding superlative performance in “a unique kind of competition in which the stakes are extremely high and the rules are never fully explained” (33). Exhibit B is the job market, typically experienced as “an intense personal drama about individual distinction and merit” (37). Exhibit C: the still-hallowed monograph, unpurchased, unborrowed, unread, and unassailable. In all of these cases, we define success in impossible terms. And I use the first person here deliberately: there is no “they” doing this to us. Don’t believe me? Try striking up a conversation at the next academic meeting with, “We should forget about writing monographs.” It is hard not to agree with Donoghue that our research models are “clearly broken” (55).

Here and here for further details.

Thanks for the links Derridata. Have you read this yet?:

"Student rebellion is therefore deep-seated, with the prospect of debt slavery being compounded by a future of insecurity and a sense of alienation from an institution perceived to be mercenary and bureaucratic that, in the bargain, produces a commodity subject to rapid devaluation".

From the same piece:

"In the corporatised university students now confront capital directly, in the crowded classrooms where teachers can hardly match names on the rosters with faces, in the expansion of adjunct teaching and, above all, in the mounting student debt which, by turning students into indentured servants to the banks and/or state, acts as a disciplinary mechanism on student life, also casting a long shadow on their future".

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