Stanley Fish: The Post-PC University

In a NYTimes online op-ed, Stanley Fish compares Cary Nelson’s forthcoming No University is an Island with another study of political correctness at universities. He offers high praise for Nelson’s work:

[Nelson] offers informed and acute analyses of our present situation and its discontents, and this is especially true of his chapters on unionization, tenure, and the emergence in recent decades of a “contingent” faculty, untenured, underpaid, undervalued, overburdened, and vulnerable to every form of pressure one can imagine. (There is also a chapter arguing that academic freedom requires the institutionalization of “shared governance,” a position with which I strongly disagree: academic freedom and forms of governance are independent variables.) Nelson recalls (accurately) that when he and I discussed the role of politics in the classroom at a public forum and he reported proudly on his practice of inserting the names Bush and Cheney into a poem about a past military disaster, I declared that “If I were Cary’s dean, I would fire him immediately.” But upon reflection, and after having read this impassioned and worthwhile book, I am moved to reconsider.

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