Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mark Taylor's NYT Piece

I'd been thinking I'd write about this, but it turns out, I don't actually have to!

For an administrative perspective on why Taylor's suggestions are problematic, head on over to Dean Dad's establishment. Michael Berube responds (with much more thought than I originally gave that point) to one point of DD's post here. However, my favorite post of this whole roundup is probably Berube's succinct reaction that he posted on Monday.

For great historical context that shows Taylor's ideas about abolishing tenure and getting rid of departments are as old as departments and tenure have existed, check out this great analysis at Printculture.

Mark Bousquet punches a big fat gaping hole in Taylor's comments about current academic hiring practices.

Historiann talks about who will actually do the work in this newfangled university that Taylor proposes.

Geeky Mom takes seriously the idea that change in higher education would be a good thing, especially in terms of serving students, and Tim Burke, too, seems to think that Taylor's ideas are worth considering (though he does have some criticisms, as well).

Bobba Lynx takes on not only Taylor's piece but also Erin O'Connor's response to it.



I may weigh in with a post in any case, but if you find more reactions, post them in the comments. It's really interesting to read all of the different angles on this piece.

ETA: I've been editing and adding links as the day has gone on, and I really do feel like I have things to say, but what with the grading (sigh, the grading), a tenure reception at my provost's house (though I suspect it's more on the order of a mansion), my parents coming to town Friday, and a department end-of-semester thing, too, and not to mention the Kentucky Derby, I may end up being too late to the conversation to care by the time I have time really to post the incredibly insightful and substantive things about which I'm thinking (for obviously my thoughts are deep and grand, what with the fact that I'm not writing them, you see). Who knows.

7 comments:

Laura said...

I wrote my own post about it, including Dean Dad's post, and a post by Tim Burke.

undine said...

Thanks for this roundup, and a big thanks to Mark Bosquet, Historiann, and the rest for giving Taylor's article the smackdown that it deserves.

Bobba Lynx said...

If Taylor's piece can't be described by "cockaloopy," I don't know what can. Here is the link to my response:
http://crankyinacademe.blogspot.com/2009/04/i-dont-know-which-is-making-me-crankier.html
Thanks for asking us to add to your list.

Brian W. Ogilvie said...

Taylor's essay completely ignores the role of disciplines (not departments; disciplines) as custodians of intellectual traditions that are worth preserving, even if they need to be shaken up regularly and mixed with insights from other disciplines. What would it be like if historians had to rediscover paleography and source criticism with every generation?

I could say more, but I have a lecture to revise for tomorrow morning....

Anastasia said...

I think Taylor's attitude has everything to do with the nature of religion as a field. it's inherently interdisicplinary in practice, and its history as a distinct discipline is hugely problematic. nobody wants to be the uncritical custodian of a discipline that originated as a colonialist project only to became fascist.

my word verification is deholy. heh.

Ozma said...

I'm surprised there is so much on this.

It is laughable. I mean, I laughed out loud. His suggestions are ludicrous...They are unworkable. I imagine, although I do not know, that he is one of these crotchety old crazy men who dislikes all his colleagues and does not respect other people's work.

The problem with academia is that it breeds people who know a lot about a tiny bit of the world and think that they have some kind of a priori tools to know everything.

Zawir Al-Hamidi said...

I have already miss the Dean Dad's post.