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Keeping conservatives out of academe

A friend writes to say, “So how come you haven’t said anything about all these post-election reports on the ‘liberal domination’ of universities?  Don’t you know that this is going to be one of the Right’s next offensives in the culture wars, as evidenced by the House of Representatives’ vote to revise the Higher Education Act of 1958 so as to provide direct federal ‘oversight’ of international-studies programs and individual scholars, not to mention David Horowitz’s ‘Academic Bill of Rights’ and the attempt to get state legislatures to compel all academic departments to hire for ‘ideological diversity’?”

Well, yes, I do know about all this.  In fact, folks, I’m writing a book about it.  So get off my case.  I’ve even read Brian Leiter (twice!), Juan Cole, and (back in August) The Blue Bunny of Battle (the artist formerly known as the Pink Bunny of Battle) on the subject, all of whom are really smart and all of whom have pretty much said what needs saying.

But the immediate reason why I haven’t posted anything on the subject is that I’ve been too damn busy making sure that my department doesn’t hire any conservatives this year.  We have two positions open in Rhetoric; we’re interviewing candidates at the MLA in late December, of course, and we’ll be conducting campus visits in the first five or six weeks of the new year.  I’m not on the search committees, but I am the ad hoc political advisor to those committees, and it’s my job to screen all the application letters and writing samples to make sure that no conservatives sneak through.  And it’s hard work.  It’s hard, hard work.

First of all, you have to understand that there are literally thousands of politically conservative Ph.D. candidates in the field of English language and literature, just as there are untold thousands of political conservatives applying for academic jobs in the visual arts, in special education, and in philosophy.  Over the last ten years, we’ve tried to head them off at the pass by telling them that graduate school involves anywhere from five to ten years of rigorous study culminating in the production of a 300-page work of original research, and that when they’ve completed all that while living hand-to-mouth on stipends or taking out student loans, then they get to go on the academic job market with the knowledge that they have about a one-in-three chance of landing a tenure-track job and making somewhere in the high 40s.  But they just won’t listen.  These bright young twenty-something conservatives just will not be deterred from the pursuit of scholarship in the arts and humanities, and they’ve been clogging our graduate schools to the point at which we’ve simply had to institute hiring quotas to keep them from joining the professorial ranks and eventually overrunning us.

So don’t believe any of my liberal and leftist colleagues when they say (a) they never inquire into the voting records of prospective job candidates, (b) they don’t believe that a candidate’s voting record is a reliable predictor of, say, his position on the Habermas-Lyotard debate or her understanding of the intersection of postcolonial theory and eighteenth-century studies, or (c) they can’t tell the candidate’s politics from the application materials alone.  Of course a professor’s voting record is important, of course it’s a reliable index of his or her intellectual interests, and of course you can tell from the application materials.  Take for example the candidate who claims to be studying “the rhetoric of individual agency and national identity in discourses of republicanism in post-Revolutionary America.” The word “republicanism” is the tipoff, folks, and so that dossier goes right in the circular file.  Or take the letter of application that says, “my work concerns the emergence of the ideology of the domestic ‘subject’ in early Victorian England.” The code word there is “emergence,” and if you have to ask why, you ain’t never gonna know.  86’d.

Sometimes it’s not so easy as this, though-- sometimes you need to hold the paper itself up to the light and check for the watermark.  But most of the time, the conservatives give themselves away long before the interview stage.  And that’s why liberals dominate departments like mine.

Next topic:  how my liberal friends in the theater industry are keeping conservatives out of off-Broadway productions of The Music Man!

Posted by on 12/08 at 10:18 AM
  1. I went to a liberal arts college where many of the professors were conservative.  Your cabal needs to work a little harder.  I shudder to mention its name, that your icy grip might reach out and strangle them out.

    Although, my history professor was a Democrat.  And the mayor of the town the college was in.  And I voted for him!  And, last I heard, one of the chairs in the science department believed in *evolution*!

    [OT: Michael: I didn’t know about the two-posts-a-day rule, and I apologize for violating it on the 6th.  Won’t happen again.  Today I was going to respond to your note about Social Security, but I suppose it shall have to wait until it becomes on-topic.]

    Posted by pudge  on  12/08  at  12:34 PM
  2. No problem about the two-post rule, Pudge.  I was just trying to keep a discussion from a-gettin’ out of hand.  And don’t worry about telling me the name of that non-liberal liberal arts college.  We know where it is, and it’s on our list.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/08  at  01:14 PM
  3. Michael, isn’t the word “rhetoric” itself a Republican word?

    The correct, leftist version would be “Ideology & Composition.”

    Posted by Amardeep  on  12/08  at  02:32 PM
  4. Wow-- I had no idea!  Is it all right to ask when the book’s due, Michael?  My sis teaches ESL at a state university, and she’ll love this entry.  Too bad the book won’t be available in time for this Christmas.

    Meredith Willson

    Posted by  on  12/08  at  02:32 PM
  5. Thanks for all your hard work, Michael, but you and your cronies missed one: Lynne Cheney. Will you kindly explain how she was allowed to take a Ph.D. in Literature from the University of Wisconsin?

    Speaking of conservatives with moxie, I’m wondering if you could address the larger, more problematic issue of right-wingers trying to become K-12 public school teachers. Surely they know about our scheme to turn every classroom into a consequence-free romper room with mandatory singalongs of “Free to Be You and Me.” And yet, some conservatives still apply to be teachers, or worse, they publish children’s books.

    Like, say, Lynne Cheney. A quick check on Amazon reveals a prolific career as an author including such works as “Telling the Truth”, “America: A Patriotic Primer”, “A is for Abigail”, and last but certainly not least, “Tyrannical machine: a report on education practices gone wrong and our best hopes for setting them right (SuDoc NF 3.2:T 98).”

    I mean, who let her in?

    Posted by Paul  on  12/08  at  02:42 PM
  6. Well, it took me a day to think about this one, and so I apologize for posting here for yesterday’s blog. But I just had to. And I love Michael, so this response is with great respect.
    I am really tired of the South bashing. I am a recent transplant from Virginia to New York. Yes, I’m sad to say that the supreme asshole of all time, Pat Robertson, was just down the street. Believe me...most of the folks I know there hate him. But this being a free country and all, everyone has a right to rage about anything they want to. But seriously folks...My friends in Virginia were all liberal. My cultural pursuits and interests were varied and considerable. Granted, NY is unique in it’s quantity of culture, and I do love it. But as someone said before...many of the red states were almost 50% for Kerry. But the thing I find most distressing, is the stereotype that if you are from the South, you are ignorant, illiterate, racist, backward, culturally desolate, and tote guns in your pickup. In fact, most of the Nascar tracks are in the North or West, one even being in “Pocono” which as I recall is in Pennsylvania?  Hell, most of the people I’ve met up here in Gotham are from somewhere else, yup...lots of former redstaters here enjoying life. And the most red place in the world is Staten Island for God’s sake.
    So, in defense of the South, a good liberal shouldn’t stereotype anyone. Yes, the North is more saavy and sophisticated in some ways, but if you recall all the red bleeding on the map during the election, and the tiny bits here and there of blue, also recall that W only won by a couple of points, It was almost even. So someone in the red had to be voting blue. 

    Posted by  on  12/08  at  02:45 PM
  7. Um, my previous post called for a halt to South-bashing, actually.  Especially when we should be Louisiana Purchase-bashing!

    It’s just one of my Fresh New Ideas for a revitalized Democratic party.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/08  at  03:09 PM
  8. Best blog on the net.

    Posted by  on  12/08  at  03:32 PM
  9. Thanks, KC!  We try, even when it looks like we’re not really trying.  Amardeep, you’re so right, “rhetoric” is itself a conservative code word that suggests its user is committed to the top-down, teacher-centered “banking” model of education instead of the grass-roots, student-centered liberatory classroom.  “Ideology and Composition” is a good marker for proper leftist credentials, but personally I prefer “Critique-al Pedagogy,” mainly because it is more critical than merely “critical” pedagogy.

    Whew!  Another 35 applications into the trash right there.  Thanks for the reminder, Amardeep!  You’re a real time-saver.

    Paul:  actually, the career of Lynne Cheney proves my point.  See, these people plug away for years at their doctorates, but when they get on the job market, that’s when the liberal blacklist kicks in.  And Romy, I wish I could tell you when the book’s due-- I can tell you when it was due at the publisher’s (six weeks ago), but alas, I’m still at work.  Still shooting for publication next fall, though.  Believe me, I’ll keep everyone posted.

    Posted by  on  12/08  at  04:03 PM
  10. Yeah, anyone can get a Ph.D. All it takes is persistence, subservience to the almighty PI, and a willingness to spend your mid-twenties to late thirties living on Mac&Cheese and ramen; if you get an academic job you’re allowed hamburger now and then. I think Ms Cheney probably decided the foie gras on the non-academic side of the fence looked a little more appetizing.

    Posted by PZ Myers  on  12/08  at  04:26 PM
  11. Well, now I just have to put some two-cents in.  Have to say that there is hype, yet there is truth to the charges.  See, a little fifth column conservative like me has snuck (infiltrated?) into a tenure track position, in a state university, in an English department, teaching literary theory no less (Oh, god, the irony!!), awaiting orders from Rove, of course.  But, true to form, no one ever put me under a bright light to interrogate me about my politics during the interviews, and no one has ever come across as too harsh, even during the elections.

    However, I avoid any political discussion, and there’s no way I will out myself as a republican (that is, until I get tenure), though I did admit to being in the NRA (my love of guns is hard to hide).  Also, there’s no way I can sneak in works from people like Russell Kirk or Eric Voegelin into my classes, even though the latter is straight in line with a lot of literary theory of the twentieth century.

    So no, there’s no air of oppression as far as I can tell, and in my classes, I’ve enjoyed views of all political blends from my students.  Hell, the MLA conventions are never how the conservative press describes them.  But the curriculum and its interpretation have their own, how shall we say, traditionalists . . .

    But the real bad news is that, sorry Michael, you adn the others are not doing a terribly good job, because I am far from alone, and far from deterred.

    See you at the MLA

    Posted by Jorge Donaldson  on  12/08  at  04:56 PM
  12. Damn!  Someone let Jorge through-- he must’ve borrowed that liberal letter-weight paper with the Sorbonne watermark instead of using the standard-issue “I Heart Hayek” paper that always trips up the conservative applicants.

    Still, heads will roll.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/08  at  05:20 PM
  13. Here’s a guy who’s writing about it, Michael, and he lives around the corner from you.

    Posted by PW  on  12/08  at  06:47 PM
  14. Jorge,

    I don’t want to take this off topic, but Eric Voegelin is a hack.  Though I hear his Plato stuff is alright, but that “New Science of Politics” BS is just so bad.

    Posted by Anthony Smith  on  12/08  at  09:42 PM
  15. Thanks for all your hard work, Michael. I was a little annoyed that you weren’t posting so much anymore, but now that I read you’ve been working very hard to screen out all those conservative, PhD wannabees, I forgive you. I have to admit, I don’t think I’d be able to decipher those coded ideological messages in prospective grad students and tenure-track applicants. Thanks again for all your hard work.

    Posted by Bulworth  on  12/09  at  03:25 AM
  16. I believe your efforts are a perfect metaphor for the problem the left confronts.  You are responding to the symptom (application) rather than treating the cause (the fact that there are conservatives in the “liberal” arts applicant pool).  I believe we need a “root and branch” approach and suggest that the College Republicans are the appropriate object of this exercise.  Let us design classes to attract them ("Individualism and its Contents;” “The Aetiology of Freedom” etc.). In these courses we should explicitly and through the syllabus implicitly encourage the CRs to volunteer for the armed services.  The Army clearly needs them more than liberal arts graduate programs.  Once safely (well unsafely) under arms, these conservatives will have the privilege of “walking their walk” and your introductory methodology seminars will be spared their presence.  A generation will be saved from the presence of conservative academics in the liberal arts academy.  Just as the liberals cleverly preserved the democratic profile of the army during the 60s by shipping all the <s>chickenhawks</s> conservatives to the academy, we can preserve the liberal nature of the academy now, by shipping all the conservatives to the army.

    Posted by Pudentilla  on  12/09  at  04:10 AM
  17. How ‘bout a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on academic hires? Their ideological or partisan affiliation is not asked about and as long as they don’t volunteer it, they can stay.

    Posted by bulworth  on  12/09  at  04:57 AM
  18. In fact, most of the Nascar tracks are in the North or West, one even being in “Pocono” which as I recall is in Pennsylvania?

    Oh, pshaw...that doesn’t count. I grew up in the Philly suburbs, and I distinctly remember learning in school that Pennsylvania’s state motto is “Philly in the East, Pittsburgh in the West, and Alabama in the middle.”

    (Just kidding. Obviously.)

    And the most red place in the world is Staten Island for God’s sake.

    Oof...no argument there. (In all seriousness.)

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  05:31 AM
  19. When I was last in school (don’t ask), “Rhetoric” was conservative code when it was part of the Speech Communication department curriculum; liberal code when it was in the English department.

    Posted by Roxanne  on  12/09  at  05:34 AM
  20. An interesting and amusing post (as usual).  As an engineering prof. at a Midwestern land-grant university, I always laugh at the “liberal bias in academia” canard.  Yet many of the very conservative students here are convinced they are the victims of liberal bias.  Even Jorge’s post illustrates the paranoia.  (And he’s a vocal NRA supporter but a secret Republican?  How do you pull that off?) If nothing else, since our state voted over 60% for Bush, the conservative victims can take comfort in the fact that our brainwashing plan has failed miserably, a fact clearly lost on David Horowitz.  Not that anything as simple as plain evidence would stop him from whining anyway.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  05:43 AM
  21. Thanks for your dedication in this crucial work, Michael.

    Examining watermarks and shoe styles is well and good but as Harvard law school recently discovered, a brief, slyly worded questionnaire could have avoided disater.

    They might have asked, for example: Have you, or has anyone in the all male golf club to which you may belong, ever written memos for any government on the face of the earth, arguing the merits of oh, let’s say, torture? Or: Have you ever personally experienced fantasies that involved beating charges at the Hague?

    (Harvard hire’s detainee memo stirs debate)
    http://tinyurl.com/3w4lz

    Posted by Rose Siding  on  12/09  at  06:58 AM
  22. Anthony, I will agree that “New Science” is not very good, (and I don’t know why that is chosen so often as emblematic of his thought) but you are dismissing Voegelin based on one slim essay.  I would direct you to his series of works titled “Order and History,” as well as “Anamnesis” and many of his collected essays.  They are quite compelling. 

    I believe the reasons why conservatives are drawn to him are that first, he speaks from a blatanly religious viewpoint, albeit a nondoctrinal one (which, along with his phenomenological appraoch, puts him in line with Heidegger and Derrida), and that second, he criticized so many of the political movements, the “-isms” of the 20th century, and that made him an “ally” to conservatives who felt compelled to do the same.

    If he’s a “hack,” then I wish I were such a hack.

    Posted by Jorge Donaldson  on  12/09  at  07:42 AM
  23. Is it Academe or should it be Academia, or are both correct? I have a good reason to know.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  08:04 AM
  24. Both are commonly used, but I prefer “academe” partly because it doesn’t sound like a nut.  It’s also the name of the official journal of the AAUP.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/09  at  10:27 AM
  25. Michael—Did you see the link at #13?  Just noticed that the embedded links don’t show up here unless you know where to look! Here it is again:

    http://www.peterlevine.ws/mt/archives/2004_12_08.html#000519

    Posted by PW  on  12/09  at  11:46 AM
  26. Jorge,

    I’ve read sections from each, and I gotta tell you, if you think that’s Phenomenology you gotta go read some Husserl. 

    He critized so many of the political movements of the 20th century, except Liberalism!  Subsuming everything under some lamey cast “gnosticism” that he didn’t agree with!  Furthering a bogus history of theophonies!  Marx didn’t have an experience with God that led him to Marxian thought, and he wasn’t trying to bring the eschaton to earth.  To suggest such is to posit yourself a hack to the future generations of neo-cons who are clutching for any semblence of philosophical thought to give their wingnut views academic street cred.

    Anyway, good luck with the becoming-hack.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  12:23 PM
  27. but personally I prefer “Critique-al Pedagogy,” mainly because it is more critical than merely “critical” pedagogy

    Not bad, but it’s more properly multicultural sounding if you render it in a less Dead White Male typographical fashion, thusly:

    Quriddiq Al-Pedagoji

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/09  at  12:52 PM
  28. Thanks, Chris!  I can’t wait to propose a special session at the 2005 MLA on Quriddiq Al-Pedagoji.  I’ll need a subtitle, though-- any ideas?  And thanks also to Jorge and Anthony Smith, for tipping me off about this Voegelin character.  The next job applicant who mentions his name is toast!

    Posted by Michael  on  12/09  at  01:30 PM
  29. I am so glad I could help!

    God have I been depressed since Nov. 3rd.  Your site has helped.  Thanks.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  05:01 PM
  30. The bright, yet intense conservatives I feel most sorry for are those who have devoted years of effort towards learning Gay and Lesbian Studies. I’m sure there arehundreds.

    Not only have I heard nothing of any of them being hired in Mainstream universities, but I have yet to hear of any being hired at instituions like Regent, Liberty Baptist, Oral Roberts or schools like that.

    When even your own have been conditionned to reject you in favour of liberal scholars (whom I am sure flourish in the gay/lesbian/gender studies programmes ) we know that Michael has been successful indeed.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  05:16 PM
  31. Anthony, my dissertation actually was on phenomenology, and I have read Huuserl, in the original German. No, Voegelin isn’t doing any strict Husserlian style of phenomenology, but then again neither is Heidegger or many other phenomenologists.  However, Voegelin and Heidegger both refer to Husserl as a great influence on their work.

    Marx may not have been communing with burning bushes, but he was responding to a historically situated perception of the “order” of things.” His response was Hegelian influenced rather than Judeo-Christian influenced, but it was still a response to a historically perceived order of things, and that’s the real “gist” of Voegelin’s work, titled appropriately “Order and History.” And Marx was rather “gnostic” in his belief that “hidden knowledge” of the order of things could only be obtained through initiation into his “historical materialism.” Finally, I’ll grant that Voegelin was rather “cheery” with liberalism (America did grant him asylum from the Nazis), but he did address it many times.  In fact, in 1928 he wrote an entire book called “On the Form of the American Mind.”

    You are making this hack stuff seem rather easy, thanks.

    Posted by Jorge Donaldson  on  12/10  at  03:39 AM
  32. What, if “anything,” does “Voegelin” have to say about the “gratuitous” use of “quotation marks”?

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/10  at  06:31 AM
  33. I’m not too familiar with Voegelin.  Does he use “gnostic” to describe any political philosophy that presupposes that to understand history requires some sort of esoteric knowledge only available to initiates?

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  06:54 AM
  34. Chris, I guess I thought the gratuitous use was humorous, but I think I failed at making that come through.  Touche, but rest assured that I am not, repeat not, one of those people who use their fingers for air quotes.  That should be banned.

    Walt, at the risk of misleading you (I am away from my copies of his works and I have been grading papers for hours), I would say that ‘gnostic’ for Voegelin refers to what you say, though I would say that the term would refer to any understanding of reality in general, and not just history.  It refers to the notion that many modern ideologies could be said to have assessed reality as somehow “fallen,” with true reality hidden and accessible only through specialized knowledge (of course, given ony to the initiated).  Voegelin says that many modern ideologies share certain things with gnosticism, but not that they are directly connected.  It’s more a way to conceptualize than to define. 

    Religion aside, I think it’s a fascinating concept, and somewhat in league with the many phenomenologically driven philosophies of the last century.

    Posted by Jorge Donaldson  on  12/10  at  08:46 AM
  35. High forties???

    Is it too late to send in my CV?

    Quriddiq Al-Pedagoji: Transgressing the Normativity of Ideology by Rockin the Casbah of the Contact Zone

    That should get me in.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  09:38 AM
  36. Quriddiq Al-Pedagoji: The Emergence of Republicanism in the Rhetoric of the War on Terra

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  10:21 AM
  37. Jorge,

    Again I don’t want to countinue taking this off course, but I’m a stubborn son of a bitch.

    Marxian theory is not about hidden knowledge, so unless you are prepared to provide some citations then get off that horse.  The problem with Voegelin’s gnosticism is its poor theological basis.  One can’t make their entire philosophy hinge upon theological concepts and have poor theology to back it up. 

    He is not a phenomenologist. Heidegger stopped doing phenomenology after Being and Time (cf. the work of Will McNeil and David Krell).  Even if Voegelin refers to Husserl as a great influence on his work, that doesn’t show that he is doing phenomenology of any stripe.  If you are doing any kind of continental thought then owe a great deal to Husserl, but that doesn’t mean you are doing phenomenology.  Derrida is not a phenomenologist and yet he owes a great deal to Husserl’s thought.  Deleuze critizes much of the phenomenological tradition, and yet he too owes a great deal to Husserl. 

    My point is simple, just because Voegelin has some catchy, easily latched onto phrases and comes out of the same tradition as many good philosophers, does not make him one.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  02:56 PM
  38. My “bad,” Jorge. I guess I “misread” your in"t"ent.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/10  at  03:32 PM
  39. Well, you’re doing a very bad job at keeping conservative (forces) out.

    Posted by ml  on  12/10  at  03:37 PM
  40. Not in my department, I’m not!

    And thanks to rm and Terence for the subtitles.  Neither sug(gest)ion had any paren(theses) or super-fluous pun/ctuation, but I like ‘em anyway.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/10  at  03:54 PM
  41. I thought that the good Market conservative response was to go build their own… I know they’ve tried (TAC, Steubenville, Ave Maria, Christendom, Bob Jones, Oral Roberts U) and it sounds like they’re not content with the little bit of successful competition they’ve arrived at, so they’re pleading for someone to step in and suppress the established academic providers…

    ...because they’re not getting enough students to come shop at their conservative colleges - I mean, listen to their objective, rational lecturers --

    ...which sounds supiciously UnAmerican and - gasp - Socialist! to me. Take students away from the successful education providers who happen to be liberals and forcibly redistribute them to conservative education providers, by regulating and interfering with the way that these businesses - I mean, academic institutions - run themselves?

    What would Milton Friedman say?

    Posted by bellatrys  on  12/10  at  04:13 PM
  42. How can you be so sure? Maybe you could head off those pesky, relentless conservatives with more slices of reality.

    Posted by ml  on  12/10  at  09:58 PM
  43. Anthony, I’m a stubborn s.o.b. also, but I am not cheerleading V.’s gnosticism or his concordance with phenomenology as hard as you think I am apparently.

    I’m not willing to define phenomenology as strictly as you also.  Yes, there is Heidegger’s ‘kehre’ after B&T, but his work wasn’t, to me, so far removed from B&T that he could be said to leave phenomenology behind.  The same with Voegelin.  Again, he never did strict phenomenology, but no one besides Husserl ever really did.  It sounds as though we agree in assessment of the thinkers you cited (except Voegelin), but differ as to whether the title “phenomenologist” applies.

    I’m perhaps a little nonplussed at the assessment of gnosticism within Voegelin.  I personally don’t think that it is his greatest contribution, but certainly compelling. 

    As far as a theology, one criticism of V. is that he does not really rely on one, though he does, as you say, rely on theological concepts.  The same can be said of Derrida and Heidegger. Actually, I think that the lack of theology is what makes the concept of gnosticism to define modern theories very pertinent.  So I can’t see the “poor theology” you point to. I’d say no one does.

    Nor do I see catchy phrases.  That sounds rather simplistic and dismissive.  I’ve heard criticism that Voegelin relies too much on rigorous and complex frameworks which restrict his theories, but the criticism of mere catchy phrases would be just the opposite, and I agree with the former.  In fact, I think he may be the most unquotable thinker since Kant.

    And if you think Marxism doesn’t sound suspiciously like some sort of guide to hidden knowledge, try explaining to a Wal-Mart greeter that somehow the company has, without his knowledge, alienated him from his labour, and that he doesn’t even realize that he has a sense of fragmentation and ‘ennui’ which stems from being steeped in a system that propagates private property.  “Oh, you just don’t get it” could have been the phrase used by Marxists only slightly more than “I’m sure there was a good reason that Stalin murdered all of those people.”

    Posted by Jorge Donaldson  on  12/11  at  05:29 AM
  44. Hey, at least we finally get the admission that much of the academic world has the intellectual discernment of cheesy Broadway musicals.

    Posted by Sebastian Holsclaw  on  12/11  at  08:29 AM
  45. “Neither sug(gest)ion had any paren(theses) or super-fluous pun/ctuation, but I like ‘em anyway.”

    How ‘bout:

    Quriddiq Al-Paeda Gadji: Smashing the Barrier’s of Linguistic Possessive’s as a Grassroot’s’ Deconstructive Respon’se to the Bush Ownership Society

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/11  at  09:00 AM
  46. Sebastian, whatchu talking about “cheesy”?  The Music Man is a primary site of qurridiq al-paeda gadji, exposing the ideological contradictions at the heart of the American socius and staging them on the very surface of the late-capitalist “body” by foregrounding a “music man” who does not know how to play music.  The musical-- centered, as it is, around the figure of the not-musical, the “confidence man” whose antecedents can be found in Melville and Mann-- thus poses the question of whether a simulacrum of the scene of pedagogy might, in fact, be indistinguishable from music lessons in which people “actually” learn to “play” music.  I don’t think I need to spell out the implications of this, but basically, I read The Music Man as a meditation on the Pirandello/Ionesco experimental tradition, plus songs.

    Which reminds me, it also features “Til There Was You,” which isn’t a bad show tune as such things go.

    And many thank’s, Chris, for your re-suturing of the possessive apostrophe as a deconstructive response to the deconstruction of Social Security!  Look for your title (under my name, natch) in the 2005 MLA Program--

    Posted by Michael  on  12/11  at  09:29 AM
  47. Look for your title (under my name, natch) in the 2005 MLA Program

    Sigh. I’ve always dreamed of being a graduate student.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/11  at  09:39 AM
  48. Jorge, if you don’t get tenure, do you think it will be because of 1. the quality of your work, 2. your political views or 3. your coming across as a sneak and/or coward when it comes to your political views?

    I’m always amazed at the lack of cojones of just about every conservative out there except Ann Coulter, who seems to have enough for everyone. I think she must have su^H^H uh, absorbed? appropriated? the cojones out of every single conservative out there.

    Speak up, man. People respect honest disagreement more than they do people who lie to their faces.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  10:50 AM
  49. I really don’t want this to degenerate into a flame war, but frankly you haven’t read your Marx very well.  It isn’t secret knowledge either, you just haven’t done the hard work of reading well.  You also may not know any real, working class folks.  Either way, go back to step one and re-read Capital.

    I’m just going to concede on the Voegelin thing because I don’t feel like entering into a boring debate about a boring philosopher for the rest of the week.  I’m just glad he isn’t that popular at the school I attend, but if you are looking to get into a nice, Conservative school that has a Voegelin scholar (who is a very nice person) then check out Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  11:41 AM
  50. Wendy, if I don’t get tenure it will actually be because 4) someone like yourself will turn a simple debate about ideas into puerile, personal attacks (such as your assertions that I am a coward, and your indirect assessment of my genitalia), insults, and vendettas. 

    What I don’t get is why my political views, whether explicitly stated or sneakily kept to myself (can you imagine someone actually expecting privacy when it comes to political views?), would have anything to do with tenure in the first place.  Aren’t you perpetuating the stereotype that liberals are on witch hunts to oust conservatives?  Or maybe the stereotypes are true, just exaggerated a bit here and there?

    How is insulting liberals showing cajones?  How is assessing political ideology as being akin to treason somehow laudable?  Given your contumely, Wendy, I see why Coulter is your hero.

    Why are disagreements with me (and other conservatives) always directed as personal attacks?  Why are my testicles even a subject of debate?  I am called a coward, yet you and others prove that coming out would merely invite more personal insults, attacks (even on the quality of my work which you don’t know), and, hell, even put tenure into question.

    Even when debating a dead-in-the-water thing as Marxism, the assumption is that somehow I have a personal failing, that I am just too stupid too see things the right way, that I am too lazy to have read in-depth.  Funny, because, Anthony, you admit that you have only read a portion of Voegelin’s works and you dismiss it, yet because I dismiss Marxism, it’s because I haven’t read enough.  Trust me, I have read Capital, I have read the essays on Feuerbach, I have read the essays on German Ideology, and while I may have cheered it on at an earlier, more naive age, I certainly am no longer fascinated by a simple thinker like Marx. Could you also explain the relevance of your statement that I may not know real working-class people?  If it’s worth anything, I’ve worked blue-collar since I was 14, all the way up to before the Man gave me my current job. I am the proletariat, but I just used my library card a little more rigorously.

    Let’s all try to be mature and civil, shall we?

    Posted by Jorge Donaldson  on  12/11  at  12:37 PM
  51. I second the “mature and civil” motion.  And, of course, Jorge’s political views should-- and I trust will-- be irrelevant to his tenure case, just as they were (I trust) irrelevant to his hiring.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/11  at  12:57 PM
  52. We can’t know whether Jorge’s political views will be irrelevant to his tenure case because he is lying about them to those who will make the decision. He doesn’t trust or respect his colleagues based on their political views. That seems pretty incivil to me. My apologies to Michael for pointing it out.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  03:59 PM
  53. http://sciencepolitics.blogspot.com/2004/10/assault-on-higher-education-lakoffian.html

    http://sciencepolitics.blogspot.com/2004/11/why-is-academia-liberal.html

    Posted by coturnix  on  12/11  at  04:38 PM
  54. Michael,

    i can certainly empathize with your situation.

    here in Academic Library Land (Libraria Academia,) we are fending the conservatives off with sticks--i mean, who would NOT want to be saddled with meeting 80% of the requirements of academic tenure, to be rewarded with double the working hours and almost half the respect and almost half the salary--sometimes upwards of 30K per year! all for the chance to spend hours and hours explaining to undergraduates that no, you really CAN’T “get everything” on Google!

    and as for my sisters in Public Library Land (Libraria Publicans--and yes, even if they are “men” we all know that ALL Librarians are “sisters,") you can’t imagine the hordes of right-wing conservatives who are eager to put 6 or 8 years of education to the service of providing “books” to the urban homeless and babysitting loose children while keeping everyone away from internet pornography for fear of losing all funding!

    will it never end?

    -Librarian

    Posted by Librarian  on  12/11  at  08:26 PM
  55. and, i do apologize, but the Universal Librarian Code requires that i provide some reference material, even when it has not been requested, as part of every social interaction, so:

    Bush’s current “mandate”: 2.49%
    (down from last week’s: 2.71%, with every vote counted, this percentage shrinks.)

    difference over votes FOR “ABB”: 1,835,744
    difference over votes FOR Kerry:  3,032,793

    margin over Kerry: 2.49% (3,032,793 votes)
    cumulative margin of “for” over “against” Bush: 1,835,744 votes

    VAP:  217,767,000 (total Voting Age Pop.)
    REG:  160,702,151 (registered pop.)
    votes: 122,032,362 (56% of VAP, 75.9% of REG)

    for B:  61,934,053
    against B: 60,098,309
    for K:  58,901,260
    for others:  1,197,049

    historical perspective:

    six closest races (popular vote) since 1892

    1. Kennedy 1960 0.16%
    ( Al Gore 2000 0.52%)
    2. Nixon 1968 0.70%
    3. Carter 1976 2.06%
    4. Bush Jr. 2004 2.49%
    5. Cleveland 1892 3.01%
    6. Wilson 1916 3.12%

    six largest margins (popular vote) since 1892

    1. Harding 1920 26.17%
    2. Coolidge 1924 25.22%
    3. FDR 1936 24.25%
    4. Nixon 1972 23.15%
    5. Johnson 1964 22.58%
    6. T. Roosevelt 1904 18.83%

    (see uselectionatlas.org)

    -Roving Reference Librarian

    Posted by Librarian  on  12/11  at  08:34 PM
  56. I thought Military History was invented as a way to shove conservatives in a ghetto.  What happened?

    Posted by  on  12/12  at  04:11 AM
  57. Apparently it’s only the liberal martyrs who believe in non-market values. But aren’t conservatives the ones who believe in the value of tradition? They are! (not exclusively, of course). Here’s an experiment: send out a cv with the exact same credentials and accomplishments, except that one lists a dissertation on Rawls and the other lists a dissertation on Strauss. Which one will get more responses? No mystery there. The argument that search committees don’t ask about politics is irrelevant--it’s all spelled out in the choice of topic and advisor. I’ll take my own experience as an example--I planned to major in German until I realized that noone in the department shared my interests, so I switched to political science, which wasn’t necessarily my first choice. The winnowing occurs long before any hiring committee starts reviewing cv’s.

    Posted by  on  12/12  at  09:13 AM
  58. bjr,
    doesn’t it matter what the dissertation on rawls or staruss SAYS?  not to mention what the rest of the cv has on it?  thats what bothers me about all this call for balance in academia because it acts like binary divisions liberal/conservative, blue/red, left/right are so crystal clear in the humanities.  honestly, sometimes they are, but for the most part i feel there is an element of open-endedness.  i agree in part with what you are saying, but i don’t think it means some point of view is inbred in the whole system.

    Posted by  on  12/12  at  01:31 PM
  59. Well, you know, what?  I must say, I agree with Jorge when he says that the Seahawks really aren’t looking too good right now.  On the other hand, Anthony’s retort that the Supersonics look wonderful was equally as compelling.  So, suffice it to say that I’m gonna reserve my judgment for now.  I’m not giving up my Seahawk hopes just yet, but I’m also not ready to believe that the Sonics are indeed the true force that their record suggests they are (a healthy 17-4).  Additionally, I might add that Wendy’s contribution that-- despite their hard fought win today-- the Sixers do in fact look pretty awful was on-the-money albeit a bit on the obvious side.  Oh well.  How ‘bout those Phoenix Suns though, huh?  They’re looking tough!

    -e

    Posted by Emil  on  12/12  at  02:40 PM
  60. Bjr-- You’re going to have a very hard time, especially these days, selling the argument that people don’t take Strauss seriously.  Besides, as Sudeep points out, it actually does matter what the dissertation says.  Unless you were thinking of dissertations like “John Rawls:  Why He’s Great” and “Leo Strauss-- A Loving Appreciation,” your example doesn’t do what you want it to.

    Besides, the Seahawks are in deep trouble.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/13  at  02:28 AM
  61. Sorry, I’m a baseball fan. Go Raiders!

    Posted by  on  12/13  at  07:34 AM
  62. wicked awesome blog (note the use colloquial phrasing to delineate a non-elitist disposition [it would seem however, that my use of parantheses betrays this egalitarian pose and returns me to my perch]. hey, this is fun.

    forget all other methods in determining politcal disposition.  the most reliable factor in acertaining politcal persuasion is hairstyles. simply have prospective colleagues send in a snapshot of just their hair, no faces, and you will be able reliably predict their politics within a .0003% degree of error. 

    note: conservative hair tends to be rigid and well manicured.  it is well tended to, much like a garden or a well-tempered soul.  ironically conservative hair can often be mistaken for gay hair, at which point the shoes can then be the determining factor.

    liberal hair is weird.  a contempt and distrust for authoritarianism and structure can often be glimpsed in the coif of a liberal.  it is worth noting that the hairstyles of fundamentalist christians who live in the woods and speak to god through a hollowed out log can, at times, be confused with the hairstyle of a liberal.  in this case, an examination of affecations such as jewlery is in order.

    hope this helps.

    Posted by cereal breath  on  12/13  at  07:50 AM
  63. Thanks, cereal breath!  I’ll file your comment away for the interview stage of the job search.  Only one problem I can see-- the goatee is still fairly indeterminate.  It has leaned liberal-left since 1994-95, but is sometimes worn by older, more conservative scholars (and almost all Straussians) as well.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/13  at  08:52 AM
  64. Good point about facial hair Michael. I would say, though, that the soul patch is still a liberal giveaway.

    Posted by  on  12/13  at  10:22 AM
  65. Only one problem I can see-- the goatee is still fairly indeterminate.  It has leaned liberal-left since 1994-95, but is sometimes worn by older, more conservative scholars (and almost all Straussians) as well.

    I’d forget about facial hair as a metric altogether, as since the days of the enrages it’s become almost completely useless as a political field mark. People with identical facial hair may have diametrically opposed viewpoints: the well-known “Lakoff-Wildavsky” conundrum.

    Of course, should one slip up and accidentally allow a conservative inadvertent admission to the hallowed halls of macadamia, there are sometimes mitigating factors. For instance, my wife and I had our first date in Wildavsky’s hot tub in the Oakland Hills. Were it not for the author of “Riskless Society,” I would have risked loneliness. Something to keep in mind.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/13  at  10:31 AM
  66. Ah yes.  I remember that ill-fated 1963 production of “The Music Man”, a notorious effort to fuse River City & Marion the Librarian with the writings of Leo Strauss and Ayn Rand.  The police shut it down in previews.

    Posted by  on  12/13  at  11:36 AM
  67. Posted by Chris Clarke  on  12/13  at  12:29 PM

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