Author: Mark Bauerlein

Mark Bauerlein is a professor of English at Emory.

Trouble With the Academic Star System

It remains to be seen how the Avital Ronell affair will play out. The letter presented in her defense and signed by well-known theorists and many lesser figures has evoked more scorn than sympathy, and it may signify a generational turn in literary studies. There is one element of the whole thing, however, that seems beyond […]

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Studying English Takes a Back Seat to Identity Politics

Two-thirds (66.3%) of English departments responding to a survey indicated that the number of undergraduates majoring in English is either lower or sharply lower. Only 8.7% reported an increase in the number of majors; none reported a sharp increase. That’s the abysmal finding of a survey of English departments issued last month by the Association […]

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After the protests at the University of Missouri, enrollment dropped by 13 percent.

The Coming Implosion After Diversity’s Victory

Conservatives, libertarians, traditionalists, and classical liberals need to get clear on something: the ideological contests are fading. What Irving Kristol famously said in his 2001 Bradley Lecture, “We in America fought a culture war, and we [conservatives] lost,” applies well to higher education. Conservatives fought wars over multiculturalism, Western Civilization, affirmative action, the Academic Bill […]

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Diversity Policies Are Corrupting the Sciences

Anyone who believes that the hard sciences could never capitulate to identity politics in the way the humanities and softer sciences have should not read Heather MacDonald’s report just posted at City Journal. It’s too infuriating, and the impacts could be devastating. MacDonald surveys the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and accrediting organizations […]

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Publish and Perish: The Zero Sum Game of Literary Research

Several years ago, I did a study on the costs and impact of literary research. The point was to show how much research was published and how often it was consulted. The answer to the first part was this: piles and piles of it, fully 70,000 items of scholarship each year in all the fields […]

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The Overthrow of the Great Books

Many years ago, in the late ‘90s, three professors and I met with the undergraduate dean at Emory University to discuss a Great Books proposal. Steven Kautz, a political scientist, led the effort, and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Harvey Klehr, and I backed him up. The idea was to build a Great Books track within the undergraduate […]

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Achilles and the Wyf of Bath Compete in Oklahoma

Mark Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory University, writes in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the course W.H. Auden launched at the University of Michigan in 1941. It’s 6,000 pages of the most powerful literature in the canon: The Divine Comedy in full, four works of Shakespeare, Pascal’s Pensées, Horace’s odes, Volpone, Racine, Kierkegaard’s […]

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How ‘White’ Western History Has Become an SNL Skit on Campus

In National Review this week, George Weigel writes a pointed commentary on another example of humanities professors undermining their own field. It’s a curious phenomenon, but one you often see. A scholar-teacher steps forward to condemn or distort the materials of his own field, or to rebuke past and present practitioners of it, not realizing […]

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How Identity Politics Boosts College Conservatives

One might call it an occupational hazard. A teacher hears someone say something critical about students in general and has an immediate response: “Not MY students.” It shows a particular form of identification. The teacher assumes the role of defender of the youths as if being their teacher entails being their advocate. It’s also a […]

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The Decline of the Humanities and Who’s to Blame

This year is the 30th Anniversary of the publication of Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind. That book made Bloom and anyone who liked it unambiguous enemies of the humanities. Bill Bennett, Dinesh D’Souza, Lynn Cheney, the founders of the National Association of Scholars and the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics, Roger […]

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History: A Troubled Field Likely to Get Worse

Here’s a sign of the times: the head of the American Historical Association says departments should integrate communication, collaboration, and three other “basic skills” into their programs. In other words. Jobs in history are dwindling, so graduate students in the field had better prepare some backup plans. I heard the same thing in literary studies […]

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Fewer Humanities Courses, More Ph.D.’s

A new report says that humanities departments in the United States produced 5,891 doctorates in 2015, the largest since the numbers were first tracked in 1987. Meanwhile, the chief market for those grad school grads, a tenure-track position at a decent school, has steadily contracted. Things just keep getting worse. The Humanities Indicators press release notes […]

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When Reasonable Objections to Diversity Are Viewed as Bias

A movement to crush dissent is under way and a good deal of it involves discussion and objections to diversity being declared illegitimate. Political and economic leaders and organizations speak about offense and intolerance taking place inside and outside their walls, but when we hear the actual content of those crimes, they appear far less than […]

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Child and Robot - D. Vignesh

Are Teachers the Last Defense Against Artificial Intelligence?

On July 15/16, the Wall Street Journal had an ominous story on the advancing influence of a few technology companies on every aspect of our lives. The main focus fell on the extraordinary growth of Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft, a colossal quintet that makes the old days of the Robber Barons look minor […]

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Liberal Talking Heads Turn Against the West

The liberal reaction to Donald Trump’s speech on Western civilization goes to show how much liberals played the fool way back in the 1980s. That’s when the debate over Western Civilization boiled over and traditionalists and multiculturalists vied for control of the humanities curriculum. Liberals didn’t fit easily in either camp. Most of them in the […]

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How Schools Create Social Justice Warriors

When people watch videos and TV footage of college students screaming at professors and blocking doors to lecture halls, they wonder where the rancor and intolerance come from. A story recently in The New York Times identifies one origin. It’s called “Children’s Primers Court the Littlest Radicals,” and it covers a new trend in children’s […]

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More Bad News about College

What was the most noteworthy finding of the recent Gallup survey of people who have attended college? Half of the 90,000 respondents regretted one significant decision made as an undergrad, such as picking the wrong major. In journalistic terms, this is known as burying the lede — downplaying the major point of a story while […]

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Increased Sensitivity Needed–Yale Dean Yelps at Whites

It is awfully tempting to laugh at the case of Yale dean June Chu, for writing Yelp reviews of restaurants and food stores that referred to customers as “low class folks” and included statements like, “If you are white trash, this is the perfect night out for you!” Watching the sensitivity monitors go after one of their own […]

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Their Violence Is Free Speech, but Our Speech Is Violence

A ludicrous inversion has taken place. The speech of Charles Murray, Heather Mac Donald, and other conservatives whose ideas cross the race taboos of the left are claimed to be violent. It is now one of the truisms of identity politics that words can hurt. As Toni Morrison said in her 1993 Nobel Prize speech, “Oppressive language […]

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Intimidated Faculty Find a New Way to Capitulate

Last week’s campus irritant,  a story in the Wall Street Journal, “Faculty’s New Focus: Don’t Offend,” claimed that an increasing number of professors are changing the contents of their syllabi. The story exposes the advent of bias response teams and undergraduates demanding a supportive, untroubled campus experience, along with the Obama Administration’s “Dear Colleague” letters on […]

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The Declining Market for PhDs

One had to wonder how long the perverse job market in the humanities would last. Here is a sign that academics may finally be getting the message that they need to respect the law of supply and demand. It’s a story of a recent report by the American Historical Association showing the trend in annual tenure-track job […]

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Humanities, Pretty Much Dead, Are Mostly a Hunt for Racism and Sexism

A number of prominent liberal intellectuals, such as Leon Wieseltier, acknowledge that the humanities are in trouble. There “really is a cultural crisis,” he said at a recent Aspen Ideas Festival. This is an improvement over the mass denial of a few years ago, when the standard retort to conservatives went something like this: “You […]

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Why History Courses Are Declining

A few years ago, when critics of academia warned that the humanities were sinking, academics shot back with data showing that enrollments were steady and the departments were doing just fine.  They also sprinkled smug remarks about Chicken-Little conservatives who were just upset that the hegemony of the traditional canon had crumbled. We don’t need […]

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Poll Indicates Race Problems on Campus Greatly Exaggerated

The Knight Foundation survey, conducted by Gallup, of where the First Amendment stands among college students and U.S. adults has several interesting findings.  One of them cuts to the heart of all the other issues of the First Amendment on campus today: There is a real perception that campuses are not fully open environments. A slight […]

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How Student Protesters Cheat Themselves

One common complaint of protesting students is the old multiculturalist argument that the curriculum is too white and male and Western.  The petition filed by students at Seattle University is a case in point. Once again, we have outlandish allegations of racism and harassment leveled against one of the most progressive enclaves on Planet Earth, […]

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Yale Lets the Abusive Protesters Win

Among all the idiocies on campus in the last year, there is no more dispiriting statement than a line quoted in The Wall Street Journal on June 3rd. In an op-ed entitled “How the Yale Halloween Vigilantes Finally Got Their Way,” an undergraduate named Zachary Young records the final episode of the whole affair in […]

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When Diversity Dictates Lower Quality Hires

Progressives at Tier 1 research universities and top liberal arts colleges sit at the summit of the higher ed hierarchy, where their eminence rests upon high standards of academic work.  But they are fervently committed to hiring and retaining more persons of color.  They have attempted affirmative action of the official and unofficial kind for a […]

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Let’s Reject This Endorsement of Free Speech on Campus

Today in the Wall Street Journal, an op-ed by Michael Bloomberg and Charles Koch explains “Why Free Speech Matters on Campus.” Many conservatives might jump to endorse this article as a welcome indictment of liberal censorship and bias by two powerful campus donors. But that would be a mistake.  Look more closely at what Bloomberg […]

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A Pointless Glut of Ph.Ds

After years of decline, the number of PhDs is rising again—despite obvious signs that the job prospects for the holders of all these new doctorates are far from good. In 2009, the number of doctorates awarded in the humanities dropped significantly.  In 2005, the fields in total produced 5,210 of them, but four years later […]

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Shrinking the White Male—and His Culture

Last September, the English Department at Colby College in Maine posted a job opening for Associate or Full Professor of American Literature. It’s a plum position, one that hundreds of professors would love to have. As with all academic job listings, the ad files a diversity statement at the bottom, assuring applicants that some identities […]

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