Thursday, July 05, 2007

Bauerlein at insidehighered.com

Mark Bauerlein has a column at insidehighered.com today.

The real point of the article is about the content of curriculum. However, it touches on a critical issue: When he and I were graduate students, the anthology of theory and criticism played a crucial role in the profession and especially in graduate student education; such anthologies were yardsticks of their respective fields, particularly new fields of literary studies. (Mark gives some good examples from his graduate career; examples from my own time as a graduate student: the 1992 anthology Cultural Studies; a 1993 volume called Cultures of United States Imperialism; the 1995 Post-Colonial Studies Reader.)

Mark's argument is that these anthologies are politically weighted, so much so that they have significant blind-spots in surveying the terrain of contemporary thought. However, I also wonder about a different question: Does the critical anthology really have the same kind of institutional role that it once did? Are anthologies like these still pivotal in the profession -- in the careers of graduate students?

6 Comments:

Blogger rachel said...

I never took a class at Emory that required or drew on a theory anthology, but In my MA program at WVU I took a theory intro for which we bought an anthology. I personally loved/love having it. When I was entirely new to all the discourse of graduate school, I found it a very helpful way to get a crash course in language/themes. I still find it useful when I want to remember the seminal pieces in various schools of thought.

I will concede that this anthology has, as MB puts it, a sociopolitical thrust to its organization and the concerns of that thrust are more left than right. But I also have read every one of the pieces he mentions as good counters, and most of them in a grad course at Emory. I also think that for all his objections to the Nrton anthology, the Norton critical editions of individual texts generally include essays that span many many decades and sensibilities.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Michael E. said...

As a follow-up, Miriam Burstein comments and wishes to add Matthew Arnold to the syllabus. What a radical idea:

http://littleprofessor.typepad.com/the_little_professor/2007/07/arnoldian.html

11:03 AM  
Blogger rachel said...

You are a real trailblazer.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Michael E. said...

Right, I'm the cutting edge. That's why everyone will be writing Custer dissertations in a couple of years.

4:06 PM  
Blogger rachel said...

I think there's a Myspace page for Custerology, in fact .....

9:29 PM  
Blogger Michael E. said...

As a postscript, it turns out that Prof. Bauerlein's article was also the source of discussion at The Valve: here.

9:44 AM  

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