Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-settings.php on line 512

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-settings.php on line 527

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-settings.php on line 534

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-settings.php on line 570

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl(&$output) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1199

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl(&$output) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1199

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1199

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Page::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el(&$output) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1199

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_PageDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1244

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl(&$output) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1391

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl(&$output) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1391

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1391

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Category::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el(&$output) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1391

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_CategoryDropdown::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/classes.php on line 1442

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class wpdb in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/wp-db.php on line 306

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/cache.php on line 103

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Object_Cache in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/cache.php on line 431

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/query.php on line 61

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/theme.php on line 1109

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::start_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::start_lvl(&$output) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::end_lvl() should be compatible with Walker::end_lvl(&$output) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::start_el() should be compatible with Walker::start_el(&$output) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Declaration of Walker_Comment::end_el() should be compatible with Walker::end_el(&$output) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/comment-template.php on line 1266

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Dependencies in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/class.wp-dependencies.php on line 31

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class WP_Http in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/http.php on line 61

Warning: session_start(): Cannot send session cookie - headers already sent by (output started at /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-settings.php:512) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade/wordpress-automatic-upgrade.php on line 114

Warning: session_start(): Cannot send session cache limiter - headers already sent (output started at /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-settings.php:512) in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade/wordpress-automatic-upgrade.php on line 114

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class ftp_base in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade/lib/ftp_class.php on line 56

Strict Standards: Redefining already defined constructor for class ftp in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-content/plugins/wordpress-automatic-upgrade/lib/ftp_class_sockets.php on line 8

Strict Standards: Non-static method K2::init() should not be called statically in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-content/themes/k2/functions.php on line 31

Strict Standards: Non-static method K2::include_all() should not be called statically in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-content/themes/k2/app/classes/k2.php on line 20

Strict Standards: Non-static method K2::include_all() should not be called statically in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-content/themes/k2/app/classes/k2.php on line 21

Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method K2Options::init() should not be called statically in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 339

Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method K2Header::init() should not be called statically in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 339

Strict Standards: Non-static method K2::register_scripts() should not be called statically in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-content/themes/k2/header.php on line 6
CU-Boulder stumbles (again) at Three Roads Blog
Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Strict Standards: call_user_func_array() expects parameter 1 to be a valid callback, non-static method K2Header::output_header_css() should not be called statically in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/plugin.php on line 339

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1002

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/threeroa/public_html/wp-includes/kses.php on line 1003



CU-Boulder stumbles (again)

Stanley Fish, writing for the Times, takes aim at another “Colorado folly.” Perhaps seeking to clean up its image after the Ward Churchill mess, the University of Colorado recently announced it was raising money for a “Chair in Conservative Thought and Policy.” The idea is to balance the left-leaning faculty and student body by hiring a conservative professor. (Sarcastic commentators have called it ‘affirmative action’ for conservatives.)

Citing a good many reasons, Fish says it’s a silly idea, but he also cheekily offers himself up for the position, listing a generous salary requirement. In offering himself for the job, he makes his point that while conservative thought is a worthwhile area of study, it need not be taught by an actual conservative, because academia is about providing dispassionate teaching, not balancing political viewpoints.

11 Responses to “CU-Boulder stumbles (again)”


  1. 1 Nick

    Is Academia really about providing dispassionate teaching? As far as my experience goes academia is largely liberal. Jeb, were you not largely persuaded to become a liberal at CC? I know I was. All of the proffs I had were liberal, except Eve Grace, who was highly unusual.

    Take the field of History. It wasn’t long ago that in order to be a serious historian you had to be kind of Marxist. Social history is still madly popular among scholars, all of it with deep Marxist undertones. Derida, Foucault and the linguistic turn which have happened in the last 15 years are largely wedded to liberal political philosophy, ie, words do not have real meaning, meaning is what you make of it…etc, old conservative values are oppressive and regressive. Hence my favorite name of the liberal movement, progressive. Now History is post-everything; there is nothing inherently political in the field becuase they are post-post modern, post-post structuralist and post-post- colonialist. However, scholarship still largely clings to its liberal value, not for any reason, but becuase they don’t know what else to do. All of the books I have read in my history classes were liberal. There were good consevative books available but they were not chosen; this is not becuase the scholarship was worse, but beucase the proffs always chose books that align with their own liberal political and philosophical beliefs–and I go to The Catholic University of America! Much more of the scholarly publishing being done today is liberal than conservative. There is no reason for this this partisan output as most liberal scholars will readily admit.

    To think that academia is not liberal is a bit like thinking NPR or the New York times provides dispassionate reporting. They look and sound dispassionate, but one quickly sees that the headlines and the stories they choose to headline and investigate are partisan.

  2. 2 Jeb

    Nick:

    Good points. Yes, I am fairly certain that most of our professors at CC were liberal. But I don’t remember any of them showing an overt political bias, and I think it was my fellow classmates that had a bigger impact on my politics then than my teachers.

    At CC I got the impression from a lot of professors that politics was below academics in terms of inherent worth … sort of base—profane even. Did you encounter this attitude at all?

  3. 3 Nick

    I wasn’t as aware of it then as I am now. Cheese was, or course, very liberal (you ought to rope him in on this). But so were all of my professors excluding Eve Grace. And I remember than she had a difficult time because of it. But Hecox, Tynan, that guy who was the Hitchkock professor and the other ones who’s names I cannot remember were almost certainly liberal. They would never come out and say ‘I am liberal,’ but they certainly used their pulpit to deliver the message in other ways. From reading your comment it seems that you think that people can do academics without being political. I don’t think it’s possible. You have to choose what to study and how to study it. In doing so you have to decide what humans are and how they work. For example, I remember taking an English course in which the analytical framework was class oppression and repressed sexuality. Sure, it is possible to read Shakespeare that way, but it is also possible to read him as uttering beautiful and universal human truths. Both can be perfectly scholarly, but the proff’s views have pervaded the subject matter and in my personal view perverted it. Eve never told me she was a liberal, but I have never heard of a liberal Straussian. Not that I am a straussian, but now that I think about it, I started becoming conservative in her class. That was definately a turning point in my life. Now that I am a little more aware of these things I can almost immediately tell if the proff is liberal or conservative.

  4. 4 Nick

    Jeb,
    As I was falling asleep last night I remembered Mark Johnson. He was definately a liberal. I remember learning, among other things, that just because Russia fell doesn’t mean communism was bad and that the cause of its collapse was economic rot from within. This is a very debatable thesis. In general, conservates think Regan had something to do with it and liberals refuse to acknowledge that he had any role and rather say the cause (as Johnson did) was entirely economic. It’s a very interesting and highly political debate. And I also remember during my oral exam for the history/polysci major that there was great tension between Eve Grace and Mark Johnson.

  5. 5 Jeb

    So, I suppose the question is: What if anything should we do about it? Is CU on the right track in deliberately hiring professors with conservative views? I don’t use the word pejoratively, but that’s tantamount to a sort of affirmative action. I’m conflicted; I support affirmative action on the basis of race, but on political views, I’m a little uneasy.

    And yes, I agree that Mark J. was quite liberal. (He actually chaired the anemic Colorado Springs branch of the Democratic Party.)

    (Great professor though!)

    [Late thought about the demise of the Soviet Union]: Maybe my views are completely colored by Mark Johnson’s politics (I don’t think they are) but I would say that Gorbachev had more to do with the demise of the Soviet Union than did Regan. (That’s not to say Regan didn’t have a role.) In particular, Gorbachev’s glasnost reforms, which essentially opened up the sins of the past (i.e., Stalin) as subject of discussion, led to widespread internal disgust with the regime. (Not that there wasn’t a lot already.)

    [One more thought]:Regan has been lionized by the right for ending the Cold War in much the same way Roosevelt has been lionized by the left for ending the Great Depression. Serious historians would dispute both notions; modern party apparatchiks, however, have a political interest in mythologizing past presidents of their respective parties. Let’s give Regan and Roosevelt credit, but let’s not get carried away!

  6. 6 Nick

    Jeb,
    I agree with your statements about Gorbachev and Glasnost but I would add some internal economic rot, albeit what I know comes almost entirely from Mark Johnson’s class. Mark Johnson was a wonderful professor and I suspect that I would probably like him still. I was never advocating Lionizing Regan or suggesting that he alone should be given credit for what happened. However, I think there is ample room for serious historians to argue over how much influence Regan actually did have. The demise of the Soviet Union was an extraordinarily complex event which can be seriously viewed form all sorts of perspectives. One’s philosophical and political viewpoints would certainly influence the way one views it. I saw this happen over and over again in the history courses I have recently been taking.

    I don’t know what I think about having a chair of conservative thought. I know that you highly favor diversity as something good in itself, so I would think you would be for it. Lets take a political science department as an example. I suppose a good department should be able to offer a wide variety of courses on a wide variety of subjects from a wide variety of perspectives. Then you would want at least one conservative voice in the department so college students could hear a different perspective. I am very grateful that Eve Grace was on the faculty at CC. Her class was very different than the others. You might say that they should hire solely based on merit. But there are more than enough qualified applicants for any given job.

  7. 7 Jeb

    Stanley Fish’s responses to readers’ responses …

  8. 8 Nick

    Jeb,
    Thanks for the link, Fish is an extraordinary thinker and I always enjoy reading him although I disagree with him on some points. I’ll make my point by commenting on a few passages of his.

    Fish: But isolation from the political world is not required. All that is required is the quite ordinary ability to distinguish between contexts and the decorums appropriate to them. When you enter an institutional setting — an office, a corporate boardroom, a cruise ship, a square dance, an athletic event — the concerns to which you are responsive belong to the setting, and you comport yourself accordingly. Rather then asking, “What do my political and religious views tell me to do?”, you ask, “What do the protocols of this particular endeavor or occasion tell me to do?”

    I agree that there are protocols which academics must and do follow, i.e., good footnotes, research on scholarship, trying to say something new and making sure you don’t confuse your which’s and that’s etc. But other than that there is a tremendous amount of room to be political and follow scholarly protocols at the same time. I’ll give you a concrete example. Say you are teaching a survey course on peasants and you want read some book about Medieval peasants. Which of the hundreds of scholarly books and articles are you going to assign to your students and why? Are you going to assign a Marxist, Weberian, or Hegelian book? If you are going to assign an economic book, are you going to assign one that views peasants as having some free will and choice over their lives, or are you going to assign one (more Marxists in tone) that depicts peasants at the whims of whatever larger economic trends are blowing? Are you going to assign a book that think of peasants as viewing their children as disposable laborers (this has been a popular academic trend) or are you going to assign one that argues that peasants love their children. Are you going to assign one that talks about religion? If so, one that argues that their lives were made better by Catholicism, or one that argues that they were essentially oppressed by it? How about gender? there are lots and lots of those books. Furthermore, once the choice has been made, how are you going to teach it? How are you going to criticize the books? Objectively? Scholarly protocol and consensus is that objectivity does not exist.

    Fish: The setting of the classroom is no different, even though the materials you encounter are often fraught with moral and political questions to which you would give very definite answers were you confronted by them in your life outside the academy. As long as you are in the classroom, and as long as you recognize the classroom as a place with its own constituitive demands, those questions will be seen as items in an intellectual landscape and not as challenges to which you directly and personally respond.
    I have only been interested in classes that have forced me to directly and personally respond. Reading Plato was so radical for me because he directly challenged many of my most cherished assumptions. There are some subjects that are more amenable to the way he is talking, i.e. like Latin. But at a certain point, even then, one must choose which texts to translate.

    Fish: Of course, somewhere behind what you are doing will be the larger commitments and world views that make you what you are, but for the duration of your professional performance, those commitments will be on the back burner, exerting some influence to be sure (I am not insisting on purity), but not enough to blur the distinction, basic to the very rationale for higher education, between what you would do were you in the ballot box and what you are pledged to do by virtue of the contract you have signed and the salary you are paid.
    If the question What justifies what you do? won’t go away, the best answer to give is “nothing.”

    I like these lines. Fish is saying that the rational for academia is “nothing”, but that he does “nothing” for a high salary. I disagree although I do cannot deny that many scholars agree with Fish. I want to teach authors like Plato because they have to power to change peoples lives for the better. That was the point of education untill recently; however, we have replaced it with ‘nothing.’ I don’t buy his sharp distinction between indoctrination and instruction. If you check out indoctrinate in the OED it simply means to imbue with learning and to teach. It comes from the Latin word doctrina which means instruction or teaching. It has only come to have a pejorative meaning recently for anyone with an opinion. I confess that I have opinions. There should be debate and dissenting opinions, and of course a good paper is a good paper no matter what opinion on the subject is reached.

    Fish: “Professionalism is professionalism whatever the profession, and a university professor who actively proselytizes (whatever the political beliefs) is not doing her job any more than a physician who insists on telling me about the virtues of the free market while I’m hooked to an EKG.”

    Sure, he’s right if I am teaching Latin, and lecturing students on moderation. But if I am reading Aristotle on moderation, and I use, say, an example from their personal lives, I am both helping them understand Aristotle and showing them how relevant it is to their lives. Furthermore, I am not in any way breaching scholarly protocol.

  9. 9 Jeb

    Nick:

    Fish has now responded to responses to his responses, and it seems as if you both have similar positions. Indeed, he echoes your position when he says that anytime a teacher is given the ability to choose, he or she is essentially invited to make a political decision. That’s unavoidable and not necessarily and bad thing, he says, but the key is to able to distinguish between types of political decision-making and avoid the bad kind.

    ‘Political’ will vary with the local context of performance. One performs politically in the academy by making curricular and other choices in relation to a (contestable) vision of what is best for the discipline and the students. One performs politically in the partisan landscape by making ballot-box and funding choices in relation to a vision of what it is best for the country as an economic and military player on the world stage.

    The questions “should we have a course in Third World Literature?” and “should we have a single-payer health plan?” are both political, but saying so doesn’t help us to understand or deal with the challenges in either context; the stakes are different, the strategies are different, the permissible forms of activity are different (attack ads are O.K. in one venue and unheard of in the other).

    It seems like he believes that certain political content has a legitimate place in the classroom. Fish: “Talking about the policy implications of different theories is perfectly appropriate. Declaring that one policy is the right one and should be implemented is not. The first is an academic exercise; the second is a political exercise.”

    I’m sure the challenge for teachers is knowing that distinction and hewing to it; I imagine that is quite difficult in reality. Then again, good teachers are pretty rare.

  10. 10 Nick

    I agree with that. I think its something that probably has to be judged in each particular instance and circumstance. It seems to be a matter of prudence.

  11. 11 Nick

    Jeb,
    I just read this by Neuhaus and I couldn’t help posting it.

    It’s a bargain if you consider that you’re getting two books in one, and for only $19.95. The twofer is Save the World on Your Own Time by the irrepressible Stanley Fish. The first book is a spirited polemic against the politicizing and moralizing of the university classroom. Professors, says Fish, are not there to propagandize but to teach. If they want to recruit students to the cause of saving the world, they should do it on their own time and quite apart from the classroom. Fish writes: “So what is it that institutions of higher learning are supposed to do? My answer is simple. College and university teachers can (legitimately) do two things: 1) introduce students to bodies of knowledge and traditions of inquiry that had not previously been part of their experience; and 2) equip those same students with the analytical skills—of argument, statistical modeling, laboratory procedure—that will enable them to move confidently within those traditions and to engage in independent research after a course is over.” Fish offers a vigorous defense of that abstemious understanding of the teacher’s task, laced with numerous examples of its egregious violation. So far so good. His pedagogical strictures would need to be significantly adjusted to accommodate religiously affiliated schools, but they are a necessary antidote to the ideological abuse of the classroom so prevalent in higher education today. Then, however, there is the second book written by the Stanley Fish who for several years served as dean of the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he had to fight against legislators who were concerned about the capture of the university by leftist propagandists. Fish does not deny that as much as 90 percent of the professoriate in the humanities is left of center, but he insists there is nothing nefarious in that. It happened quite naturally when the G.I. bill brought many into the academy who brought with them “the largely union politics they grew up with.” Moreover, “It would also include the waves of feminist, black, Hispanic, and gay activism that brought hitherto underrepresented and therefore politically active ethnic populations into the academy. The 60s ‘radicals’ who transferred the idealism of their political hopes to the idealism of a transformative theory of education make up another element of the answer.” So why is the academy so leftist? Because it is filled with leftists. Well, that explains that. Fish is strongly opposed to those who advocate greater diversity by appointing more conservatives. If you want more conservatives, he writes, “lobby for an increase in academic entry salaries from the current $50,000 to $60,000 range to something in the range of $150,000 to infinity.” The implication is that conservatives, unlike idealistic liberals, are motivated by money. And then there is this statement that borders on the astounding: “No inquiry into an applicant’s political allegiances is made or allowed. As a dean, I interviewed more than three hundred job seekers, and although I found out a lot about their research and teaching agendas, I couldn’t have told you anything about their political agendas if my life depended on it.” The result is that Save the World on Your Own Time is two books. The first is directed to fellow professors and provides a vigorous critique of the politicizing of the academy. The second is directed to outsiders who are concerned about the politicized academy and assures them that their worries are quite unwarranted. Stanley Fish, meet Stanley Fish.

Leave a Reply