The Woe-Is-Us Books
By Stanley Fish
Last week, as I was preparing a presentation for still another conference on the fate of the liberal arts in our time, two things happened.
The first was that I read or re-read a bunch of recent books (mostly short and punchy) on the subject — “Crisis On Campus” (Mark C. Taylor), “Not For Profit” (Martha Nussbaum), “Youth in a Suspect Society” (Henry Giroux), “Why Choose the Liberal Arts?” (Mark William Roche), “Debating Moral Education” (Elizabeth Kiss and Peter Euben), “The Marketplace of Ideas” (Louis Menand), “Educating Citizens” (Anne Colby, Thomas Ehrlich, Elizabeth Beaumont, Jason Stephens and Lee S. Shulman), “Reforming Our Universities” (David Horowitz), “No University Is An Island” (Cary Nelson), “Save the World On Your Own Time” (Stanley Fish) and “Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — And What We Can Do About It” (Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus). (The list could easily be doubled.)
Hacker’s and Dreifus’s book sometimes falls into the right-wing-quickie-demolition mode — course descriptions from Stanford and Yale are made fun of (in fact, they sound like great courses), and the decline of Western civilization occurs when Derrida (supposedly) replaces Dickens — but
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