Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Profs Refute Coleman-Kasibhatla

On October 5 The Chronicle published a letter from Duke School of Law Professor James Coleman and Professor Prasad Kasibhatla of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences in which the professors complained of

“a recurring theme advanced by critics like [National Journal Columnist Stuart] Taylor and [historian, blogger and Brooklyn College Professor Robert KC ] Johnson that the faculty at Duke and at other universities are increasingly a bunch of ideologues who care less about the their students and more about promoting their own extremist agendas.”
Today we learn Duke’s John Hope Franklin Institute is inviting Duke professors to apply for faculty fellowships for the 2008-2009 academic year. The six recipients will each receive a two-course workload reduction. The theme: “The Alternative Political Imaginaries.”

KC Johnson tells us:
The co-directors [are]Group of 88 member Michael Hardt and Women’s Studies/”clarifying” professor Robyn Wiegman. Wiegman is best known for lobbing intellectually unsustainable allegations of racism against Steve Baldwin and for announcing that presuming the lacrosse players’ guilt wasn’t a “crime.”

The program’s wording is arrestingly blunt, even for the Group of 88 and their campus allies.
KC then offers some excerpts from the program (italics KC’s):
The humanities have come to be characterized in recent decades by an overarching concern for politics, from the politics of cultural practices and knowledge production to political issues more traditionally conceived, such as state power, social movements, public policy, and law. As a result, almost all humanities scholarship is now considered political in one sense or another, whether it names its political intention or not . . .

Although our investigation of alternative political imaginaries will be wide ranging, we have a specific investment in using this topic to rethink whatwe see as the predominant way in which humanities research approaches politics today, namely critique: the critique of commodity culture, representational practices, colonial thought, patriarchal structures, tyrannical regimes, racial hierarchies, sexual normativities, and so forth.

Such critical practices generally seek to unmask domination and speak truth to power with the implicit belief that doing so will undermine and topple its control . . . We sense, however, that a search is already underway within the humanities for alternative political imaginaries that will enable producing not just different affects but different itineraries for political scholarship and action . . .

Fellowship proposals from Duke faculty members should include . . . your teaching goals and the ways in which your participation in the seminar might support your work in the classroom.
What was that Coleman and Kasithatla were saying?

No one’s surprised when Group of 88-types go after Johnson or Taylor.

But who knew some of them were planning to pull the rug out from under Coleman and Kasibhatla? I didn't.

And it’s not even two weeks since their letter was published!

Wouldn’t you think that in appreciation for what Coleman and Kasibhatla tried to do, the faculty ideologues would’ve waited a decent interval – say a semester or two - before offering such strong evidence of just what Johnson, Taylor and many others have been saying?

I hope you read KC’s post.

If you know Duke Trustees, send them a link and ask them why so often now at Duke ideology trumps scholarship?

That isn’t good for Duke or America.


Anonymous said...

The Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, Iranians et al are watching all this and laughing their asses off.

Ralph Phelan said...

Your last line hits on the thing that's been puzzling me - I keep harping on this because I want a decent answer already!

Why do the likes of Bob Steele go out of their way to support leftist scholarship?
How is it in their self-interest?