Week 4, February 15: Persistent Challenges

Fredy Perlman, “I Accuse This Liberal University of Terror and Violence” [pamphlet] (Black &  Red, 1969); cover image via Daniel Marcus’s “Information War!Artforum (April 2020); fair use. Marcus writes: “Dismissed from his teaching post at the end of 1968, Perlman announced his separation from the academy in a scorching pamphlet, I Accuse This Liberal University of Terror and Violence; soon thereafter, he and the other members of the “Black & Red gang” (as their group was affectionately known) pooled their resources [to found] the Detroit Printing Co-op.”

Today we’ll explore some of the macro-scale challenges facing our universities today: the ubiquity of managerialism and technocracy, the expansion of the administrative class and the casualized workforce, inequity, student debt, etc. There are myriad other issues we could address, so we’ll also map additional concerns and interests that could constitute the basis for your own coursework. 

Academic Object Analysis Presentations: Cori + Gabby

In-Class Activity: Challenge Mapping: We’ll break into small groups to identify the issues that most concern you, then we’ll “cluster map” those disparate issues to identify some overarching themes, which will help Shannon direct our discussion, plan your assignments, and organize our work for the latter half of the semester.  

To Prepare for Today: 

  • Let’s start by considering The New School’s own persistent iniquities: Read Julia Foulkes, “Reckoning with The New School’s Legacies,” Public Seminar (February 8, 2021) [10 min]. 
  • Now, read Abigail Boggs and Nick Mitchell” on “Critical University Studies and the Crisis Consensus,” Feminist Studies 44:2 (2018): 432-64 [1 hr]. Boggs and Mitchell synthesize the following texts: 
    • Piya Chatterjee and Sunaina Maira, eds., The Imperial University: Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent  (University of Minnesota Press, 2014).
    • Jennifer Doyle, Campus Sex, Campus Security (MIT Press, 2015). 
    • *Tressie McMillan Cottom, Lower Ed; The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy (New Press, 2018). 
    • Craig Steven Wilder, Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities (Bloomsbury, 2013) [you’ll recall that we learned about Wilder’s work last week].
    • Roderick A. Ferguson, The Reorder of Things: The University and Its Pedagogies of Minority Difference (University of Minnesota Press, 2012). 
    • Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, “The University and the Undercommons” and “Debt and Study” in The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study (Minor Compositions, 2013) [we’ll speak more about this work next week]. 
  • I’m hoping that Boggs’ and Mitchell’s discussion will pique your interest in the aforementioned books – and that you’ll thus be inclined to watch / listen to at least one of the following: 

And how might we productively channel our frustration and critique? 

  • Complaint: Listen to Shraddha Chatterjee, with *Sara Ahmed, “Complaint!New Books Network (October 7, 2021) [podcast: 50:28]. 
  • Protest: Katherine Franke, “Columbia University Has Lost Its Way,” The Nation (January 19, 2022) [5 min]. 
    • Optional: Roderick A. Ferguson, Introduction to We Demand: The University and Student Protests (University of California Press, 2017): 1-13. 
  • Para-Institution-Building: Read Zaina Alsous with Eli Meyerhoff, “A Detrimental Education,” The New Inquiry (April 16, 2020) [20 min]; Meyerhoff foreshadows many themes we’ll be addressing in the upcoming weeks.

Via Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory, University of Chicago; fair use
Via “How We Beat the Administration and the Union Bureaucracy,” CrimethInc; fair use

Supplemental Resources: 

  • *+Sara Ahmed, Complaint! (Duke University Press, 2021).
  • Wendy Brown, “Neoliberalized Knowledge,” History of the Present: A Journal of Critical History 1:1 (Summer 2011). 
  • Herb Childress, The Adjunct Underclass: How America’s Colleges Betrayed Their Faculty, Their Students, and Their Mission (University of Chicago Press, 2019). 
  • Critical University Studies bibliographies: Creator Unknown, “University”; “Critical University Studies Resources,” Northwestern  University. 
  • *Brett De Bary, ed., Universities in Translation: The Mental Labor of Globalization (Hong Kong University Press, 2009). 
  • Peter Fleming, Dark Academia: How Universities Die (Pluto Press, 2021). 
  • Briahna Joy Gray and Astra Taylor, “Is NOW the Time for a Student Debt Strike?Bad Faith [video: 37:58]. 
  • Dan Greene’s Twitter thread about his own related graduate seminar (September 21, 2021). 
  • Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, Yolanda Flores Niemann, Carmen G. Gonzalez, and Angela P. Harris, eds., Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia (University Press of Colorado, 2012). 
  • +Robin D. G. Kelley, “Black Study, Black Struggle,” Boston Review (March 1, 2016).