The Chronicle Review is running an article by Karen Winkler on Louis Menand, the Harvard English professor and author of the Pulitzer-prize winning The Metaphysical Club. In his recent book, The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University, Menand suggests several ways in which things can change in academia. (At the moment the article is behind the Chronicle’s subscriber wall). According to Winkler’s article, Menand’s book asks four questions:
Why is it so hard to create a general-education curriculum? Why have the humanities undergone a crisis of legitimacy? Why has “interdisciplinarity” been seen—and ultimately failed—as a magic wand? Why do professors share the same politics?
I hope to blog about this book as soon as I get a copy and read it. But in the meantime, here are some of Menand’s thoughts
- Graduate school should do away with the dissertation in order to make Ph.D programs shorter.
- The humanities should not be afraid of thinking about vocation.
- There is too much “neurotic” angst over the job market in the humanities.
- Interdisciplinarity is no “magic wand” to make the humanities disciplines appear to be more valuable
- Humanities scholars need to connect their courses and curriculum to real-life problems.
- The humanities needs to be brought into the entire liberal arts curriculum “to provide a historical and theoretical framework for disciplines.”
- “We need younger people with new ideas telling us we’re full of crap.”