Since Jonathan has apparently left for holidays after posting a response to my blog fail post the other day, it would be churlish of me to escalate this into a full-on blog fight. And in any event I appreciate the intention of the title ( all-caps COURAGE), which I take to be a kind of "buck up, soldier" kind of thing. Actually I ended up getting some kind of flu-ey bug over the weekend, which might explain some of my crankiness on Friday, though only some. In truth, these are things I've been thinking about for a while. Which isn't the same thing as saying I'm throwing in the towel, though god knows I've been tempted to, and maybe will anyway. But I'm not going to right now, because it's Christmas, and Christmas is all about giving. Self-loathing: this is my gift to you.
The humanities are dismembered and scattered, with music, art, and literature residing far afield. Literature is chopped into national fiefdoms. English departments are split by recruitment "slots," a triumph of the minim, producing such atrocities as ads for "Opening in nondramatic literature, 1660-1740." What kind of scholar, what kind of teacher could satisfy this sad little mouse-view of culture? American universities are organized on the principle of the nuclear rather than the extended family. Graduate students are grimly trained to be technicians rather than connoisseurs. The old nineteenth-century German style of universal scholarship is gone.**