Winter 2016/2017 Academic Questions: Tapping into the Truth

Dec 02, 2016 |  NAS

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Winter 2016/2017 Academic Questions: Tapping into the Truth

Dec 02, 2016 | 


In the Winter 2016/2017 issue of Academic Questions, contributors examine academia's search for truth through the establishment of educational equality, the liberalization of higher education, and a celebration of two prolific writers: Shakespeare and Cervantes. Under the first special feature, “Equality of Educational Opportunity: Coleman’s Report and His Legacy,” Russell K. Nieli and Jackson Toby examine the influence of sociologist James S. Coleman on educational equality and policy analysis. 

In "Countering the Counterculture," the second special feature of the Winter edition, we offer ideas discussing the changing campus culture from Walter Bruno in "Campus Discourse and the Silent Track"; Peter Augustine Lawler in "Higher Education as an American Counterculture"; J. Martin Rochester in "Too Much and Too Little: Campus Demonstrations in the 1960s and Today"; and Mark Zunac in "Radicalism's Yield: Politics and the Illiberal Academy."

The final special feature, "Four Hundred Years and Counting: The Genius of Shakespeare and Cervantes," celebrates two influential Western writers on the anniversary of their death with Duke Pesta's “Shakespeare’s Second Life” and Wight Martindale Jr.’s “Miguel de Cervantes—An Appreciation.”

NAS members will receive printed copies of this issue in the mail. (NAS members, click here for instructions on how to get full online access to all AQ articles.)

The featured articles from the Winter 2016/2017 AQ are listed below.

Two of this issue’s articles (Robert Carle's "The Strange Career of Title IX" and Mark Zunac's "Radicalism's Yield: Politics and the Illiberal Academy") are available for free through our website.

The Academic Travails of an Honest Man 

Glenn M. Ricketts, National Association of Scholars

In his introduction to the first special section of this issue, “Equality of Educational Opportunity at Fifty: Coleman’s Report and His Legacy,” Glenn M. Ricketts reminds AQ readers of the struggles and successes of the report’s principal author, James S. Coleman, who held data and truth above political and social conviction during his often embattled career as a research sociologist.

Challenging Conventional Wisdom: Four Moments in the Research Career of James S. Coleman 

Russell K. Nieli, Princeton University

Using the 1966 publication of Equality of Educational Opportunity as a starting point, Russell K. Nieli considers “four broad phases in James Coleman’s evolving thought on education in America.” As Nieli notes, despite the public controversy and collegial rancor this could and did cause, Coleman never hesitated to adjust or discard conclusions drawn from previous data in light of new research and evidence.

The Charge of Racism against James S. Coleman 

Jackson Toby, emeritus, Institute for Criminological Research at Rutgers University

Jackson Toby caps AQ’s review of the Coleman Report’s history and James Coleman’s career by taking an often first-person look at the vilification of Coleman, and the professional isolation to which he was frequently subject, particularly during the 1970s, when Alfred McClung Lee, then American Sociological Association president, denounced Coleman as racist and attempted to have him censured and expelled—unsuccessfully—from the ASA. Coleman went on to serve as ASA president in 1992–1993.

Campus Discourse and the Silence Track 

Walter Bruno

In the first entry of “Countering the Counterculture,” this issue’s second special section, Walter Bruno turns a lunch conversation with two recent master’s degree in English recipients into a hard look at the ideologies holding sway on today’s campus, from gender feminism to neo-Stalinism, all of which are supported by a foundation of postmodernism and theories of discourse that ultimately serve to muzzle free speech.

Higher Education as an American Counterculture 

Peter Augustine Lawler, Berry College

Using Tocqueville’s Democracy in America as the framework for his argument, Peter Augustine Lawler reasons out why a true countercultural professor today believes that teaching must remain focused on core texts and that higher education in America should be liberal education.

Too Much and Too Little: Campus Demonstrations in the 1960s and Today

J. Martin Rochester, University of Missouri–St. Louis

Similarities exist between the campus protests of the 1960s and those currently sweeping the nation. There are also key differences, stemming from sources and levels of dissatisfaction and a “contemporary sense of entitlement.” These differences are related to the rise of political correctness, contends J. Martin Rochester, who uses his experiences of campus demonstrations during both eras to explain why institutions of higher education must effectively police themselves and uphold their primary mission—or risk losing their autonomy.

Radicalism’s Yield: Politics and the Illiberal Academy 

Mark Zunac, University of Wisconsin–Whitewater

For those who consider diversity paramount, current campus protests “represent self-validating reassurance that the institutionalized…prejudices against which an entire academic-industrial regime has arisen” still exist and need “even more top-down remediation.” In the final “Countering the Counterculture” entry, Mark Zunac examines why faculty and administrators, instead of being troubled by student demonstrations “or ashamed of their own tacit complicity,” find they serve larger social and political ends.

Shakespeare’s Second Life 

Duke Pesta, University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh

Duke Pesta considers how “The Bard of Avon” and his works live on in our third special section: “Four Hundred Years and Counting: The Genius of Shakespeare and Cervantes.”

Miguel de Cervantes—An Appreciation

Wight Martindale Jr., Villanova University

Wight Martindale Jr. does the same for Cervantes, comparing and contrasting the very different lives Shakespeare and Cervantes led as he celebrates the life and times of Cervantes’s Don Quixote, a model of “real heroism” and a man of good will.

The Strange Career of Title IX 

Robert Carle, The King’s College

In 2016 the American Association of University Professors published The HistoryUsesand Abuses of Title IX, which criticized the Obama administration’s approach to Title IX for “chilling free speech, eviscerating faculty governance, and trampling due process rights on American college campuses.” In discussing this critique Robert Carle inspects the devolution of Title IX, and how, over time, the Department of Education has come to micromanage aspects of campus life never meant to come under federal control—wasting funds and creating countless “rules and regulations that divert colleges and universities away from their educational mission.” Carle suggests a radical solution.

The Apocalyptic Imagination: Climate Nonfiction and the Dream of Marxist Utopia

David Randall, National Association of Scholars

Much of climate nonfiction that predicts climatological disaster segues from “preaching the end of the world to calling for universal health care, more birth control, progressive taxation, and…an end to the free market,” fully embracing the authoritarian steps that would be needed to enact these measures. Sharing examples of this “repeated hijacking of the speculative climate genre by Marxist critique,” David Randall outlines why abandoning respectful persuasion lies at the root of this power struggle.

Discrimination at Work

Mark Bauerlein, Emory University

“Early in this study,” Mark Bauerlein writes in his review essay of Inside Graduate AdmissionsMeritDiversityand Faculty Gatekeeping, author Julie R. Posselt makes an “irresponsible” argument for demographics “as patent evidence of inequity,” noting that schools are reevaluating acceptance criteria because they believe that standards may be the cause for disparities. Despite Posselt’s flawed argument, Bauerlein finds the book sheds welcome light on graduate admissions, which are, once basic standards are met, subjective and “aggravated by secrecy.”

The Worst That’s Been Thought and Said

Bruce S. Thornton, Hoover Institution and California State University

Despite “heroic resistance” during the past thirty years, the Left controls American higher education. And yet, in Passing on the RightConservative Professors in the Progressive University, “self-professed conservatives” Jon A. Shields and Joshua M. Dunn Sr. try to argue that things aren’t as bad as conservatives claim. In his review essay of Passing on the Right, Bruce S. Thornton explains why Shields and Dunn are wrong.

Image: Wintertime by Marlis Börger // CC BY-SA 2.0

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