Author: Mark Bauerlein

Mark Bauerlein is a professor of English at Emory.

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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Mismatch: The End of a Liberal Dream

The most disturbing thing about mismatch research (examining the contention that a student can be adversely affected attending a school where her level of preparation is substantially lower than that of her typical classmate ) is that it demonstrates a tense inequity: recipients of affirmative action at selective colleges are not as smart as non-recipients. […]

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More Bad Numbers for the Humanities

By Mark Bauerlein In recent years, several critics have chided those of us who say the humanities are fading by citing statistics on undergraduate enrollments that show no real declines at all since the 1980s. One reason for the rebuke is that many arguing the “crisis” do so on the basis of intellectual decline, specifically, […]

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The University as Nursery

One of the implications of the shift of pressure against free speech from left-wing faculty and administrators to undergraduates is that the ideological framework of liberal bias doesn’t quite apply.  Yes, we have language of “racism” and “sexism,” along with demands that relics of US history that fail the PC test be torn down.  But […]

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The Coming Ideological Takeover of Music

It has been nearly 30 years since Jesse Jackson led a group of protesters around the Stanford University campus chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has gotta go!” The target back then was patriarchal Eurocentric content, the books, art, words, and ideas of Dead White Males.  The solution was a more multicultural syllabus, plus more […]

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‘White Only’ and ‘Black Only’

A bizarre incident happened last week at University of Buffalo. Someone posted signs reading “White Only” or “Black Only” at the entrance to bathrooms and above drinking fountains around campus. Students were shocked and outraged, USA Today and other outlets reported. Police were called in to remove the signs and investigate. The Black Student Union called a […]

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College Prep: Put on a Suit and Tie

There is no shortage of silly proposals on college campuses.  We have, for instance, the University of Tennessee Office for Diversity and Inclusion asking students to use gender-neutral pronouns such as ze in order to create a more welcoming campus. Transgender people, you see, don’t fit this gender binary, and so a foundation stone of […]

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The Fading of Liberal Education

The best ranking of undergraduate institutions by their general education is ACTA’s What Will They Learn? project. The evaluation looks at seven core subjects (composition, literature, foreign languages, U.S. government or history, economics, math, and science) and tallies whether schools require all students to show sufficient knowledge and proficiency in each one. The ACTA approach goes […]

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Progressives Shoot at Shakespeare

Dana Dusbiber’s statement in The Washington Post deploring the teaching of Shakespeare in high school English courses evoked universal scorn and laughter. Her thesis is simple: Shakespeare is too old, white, male, and European for 21st-century American students, especially those of color.  His language is dense and unfamiliar, enough so that Dusbiber herself can’t always understand it.  […]

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Why Is He $82,000 in Debt?

Kevin Carey hates college.  Or rather, he hates the higher education industry, the system, the establishment.  An encounter on page 39 of his new book, The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere indicates one reason why.  Carey sits down at a Starbucks in Washington, DC, with a junior at […]

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Bill Moyers’ America—Ugh!

At Salon Magazine, Bill Moyers has an essay penned in direct response to criticism of Barack Obama for his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast. People have assailed Obama for his scolding tone, bad timing , poor history, and moral equivocation. And here is Bill Moyers expanding President Obama’s point, an opinion piece entitled: “When […]

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Would These Profs Make You Major in English?

A recent Inside Higher Ed story documented an alarming trend in the English departments at University of Maryland, George Mason University, and Florida State University.  The numbers of English majors there have plummeted in the last few years. Maryland lost 88 majors in 2012, 79 majors the next year, and 128 majors 12 months later, the story […]

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Presidents and Students, Adults and Children

Last month, we had two cases of college presidents at high-profile universities join in student protests over the grand jury’s decision in the Ferguson case.  Here is a story on President Eric Barron, head of Penn State, standing amidst students with hands raised.  The students had spent two days gathering on campus, shouting slogans (“Black lives […]

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A Way Past the Asian-American Challenge

There was a thoughtful op-ed in the New York Times last week on the Asian American challenge to admissions procedures at Harvard University.  It was written by a political theorist who teaches writing at Harvard, and it acknowledges that Harvard “engages in ‘racial balancing,’” a procedure that keeps Asian American admissions to the college at a consistent 17-20 percent even […]

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The Battered Humanities–Are They Worth Saving?

A particular nostalgia is at work in academic discussion.  We still talk about of liberal education, the liberal arts, and the humanities as if they remain viable activities in higher education, threatened, yes, and losing ground, but open to revival.  Universities have grown ever more “corporate,” students flock to business and vocational programs, the sciences […]

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Yale Muslims: Hurt Feelings but No Arguments

As Lauren Noble wrote two days ago here at Minding the Campus, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s speech at Yale on Monday night was a success, despite the discomfort felt by the Yale Muslim Students Association (MSA). I say “discomfort” because that is what the MSA itself emphasized in its September 10th letter to the Yale community […]

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US News Rankings: Not Quite Ho-Hum

Well, the 2015 U. S. News & World Report rankings are out, and here are the elite Top 10 for “National Universities”: 1. Princeton 2. Harvard 3. Yale 4. Columbia 4. Stanford 4. University of Chicago 7. MIT 8. Duke 8. Penn 10. California Institute of Technology And here are the rankings of the Top […]

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The Undead Are Rising on Campus

Scores of colleges, from Goucher to Harvard, now feature “Undead Studies,” that is, academic work on zombies and vampires. Depending on your point of view, this is either yet another indicator of the debasement of higher education, or a playful way to attach serious thinking to not very serious expressions of popular culture. Frivolous or not, it takes […]

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Why the Millennials are Doing So Poorly

The thesis of my 2008 book, The Dumbest Generation, was that digital tools and media have become so prominent in teens’ and 20-somethings’ thoughts and acts that their intellectual and civic capacities are bound to deteriorate.  While devices and social networks allow the possibility of intellectual and civic engagement, I argued, they mean something else entirely […]

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How to Answer the White-Privilegers

The sad debate over “white privilege” education sessions on elite campuses has reached its low point with a comment in a New York Magazine article by a Harvard student Reetu Mody, a graduate student in public policy and “campus activist.” Mentioning Princeton student Tal Fortgang’s protest against these privilege-consciousness-raising programs, the article continues: “Mody has […]

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