talkin’ corporate university blues

From: Donoghue, Frank.  The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities.  New York: Fordham University Press, 2008.

135-6: In the face of the trends I have described here, it seems to me that professors of humanities can resist their extinction only by shifting the focus of their attention in two important ways.  First, rather than merely opposing the corporate assumptions that threaten their disciplines, humanists must challenge those assumptions along different lines.  If we constantly meet the corporate model of higher education with skepticism, we might keep its most precious tenets from becoming articles of faith for everyone: students, society at large, even disempowered humanists.  Central among these tenets is the assumption that a practical, occupation-oriented college education leads to a secure job and thus is crucial to improving one’s quality of life.

137-8: The second, corollary action that humanists will have to take in order to stave off their disappearance from the university of the future is to balance their commitment to the content of higher education with a thorough familiarity with how the university works.  That phrase . . . advocates a perspective on academic labor that most humanities professors have been reluctant to adopt.  Not only do we need to resist the tendency to romanticize our work, but we also need to locate that work in an assortment of unfamiliar contexts.  Many of the developments that I have discussed here—the hyperprofessionalization of academic careers, the rapid erosion of tenure, the rise of for-profit education, and the prestige race—seem to have caught professors by surprise, leaving them unprepared to deal with the very phenomena that directly affect their jobs.

Discuss.

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2 Responses to “talkin’ corporate university blues”

  1. ellen Says:

    Thumbs down for the new layout. And for writing in all italics.

    And dude is right. The academic world has made itself this insular cabal and romanticized the importance of what it does to the point where it almost seems to believe it can operate outside of corporate capitalism. This may have worked out okay when men wore tights and serfs worked their land, but this is no longer the case. Since education is the taxpayer’s last priority, if a university can’t run itself like a business and make some money so it can survive in part without those taxpayer dollars, we will see academia, and in particular the more esoteric disciplines like English, Psychology and Enron Economics, languish and die.

    To die, to sleep, to sleep perchance to dream of a time in which the humanities and “soft sciences” are as important as the disciplines that make drugs and explosions (and money by association). But, unless the academic community gets its corporate on, it’s going to waste away until its just as dead as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

  2. mlmcginnis Says:

    I like the new layout, but I’m with you on the italics. However, that is how the style sheet has the block quotes formatted, and I’m too cheap to pay for access to the CSS to change it.

    I think I agree with you re:academia, but at the same time I am left wondering what the humanities are left to do in such a curriculum. I am dissatisfied with the notion that our two recourses are either becoming a licensed fool of a discipline–the “oppositional discourse” move; or to give in–and we all teach four sections of technical writing a semester.


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