Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Meta-Berube Blogging

Scott McLemee sez: Kos and Comrade Adjunct Professor command that all right-thinking... that is left-thinking... right-thinking too, basically everybody who is not an idiot on the order of Lee Siegel... to read Michael Berube's What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?:

Jobs, News and Views for All of Higher Education - Inside Higher Ed :: A Liberal Dose of Reason: Michael Bérubé’s What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts? Classroom Politics and “Bias” in Higher Education.... A reader of Bérubé’s blog quickly learns that satire is one of his default modes. (Upon being listed by Horowitz as one of the academe’s “dangerous professors,” he announced that his field was “dangeral studies.”)... I expected fireworks. Or, more accurately, dynamite.... But in fact, no....

What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts? assumes the existence of a large, smart, but ambivalent (or frankly confused) audience.... The author assumes on the part of the reader both skepticism and an open mind....

The book covers quite a lot of ground. It debunks some of the more heavily publicized but fact-free accusations regarding the persecution of conservative students; acknowledges the embarrassments of the “Monty Python left” of Ward Churchill and friends; and describes what it’s like to teach The Rise of Silas Lapham to undergraduates who almost never actually like the book. It also offers a pretty compelling and accessible account of what’s at stake in the Habermas-Lyotard debate over the incommensurability of discourses, with special reference to the debate over foot massages in the opening section of Pulp Fiction.

And there’s more besides... higher education is much less homogenous — or for that matter, ideology-minded — than certain propagandists make it look....

“Universities,” writes Bérubé in a passage that sums up an important strand of his argument, “even private universities, are thoroughly and complexly interwoven into what remains of the public sector of the United States, and their relative economic health, together with their extraordinary capacity to generate economic wealth (if you’re interested in that kind of thing), provides powerful testimony to the wisdom and the long-term structural soundness of the mixed free-market/welfare state economy. So America’s cultural conservatives may despise us for the obvious reasons — our cosmopolitanism, our secularism, our corrosive attitude of skepticism about every form of received authority — but the economic conservatives, I think, despise us because we work so well.”...

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