Welcome to What Happens Next. My name is Larry Bernstein.
What Happens Next is a podcast which covers economics, finance, history, politics, the arts and current events.
Today’s session will be on You Cannot Teach That!
Our speaker will be John Ellis who is the former Dean of the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Professor of German Literature. The topic is the corruption of the Humanities, and what this means for the University.
I’ve raided the What Happens Next archives to find additional material that supports John Ellis’s discussion. We are going to hear from Arnold Weinstein who is a Professor of English at Brown University who will discuss the increasing resistance to teaching Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.
We will also hear from my friend David Grazian who is a Professor of Sociology at UPenn who will discuss the challenges of teaching Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities and why it is much easier to teach the HBO Series The Wire than the novels of Tom Wolfe.
Our final speaker is Patrick Allitt who is a Professor of History at Emory University. Patrick is going to discuss the increasing relevance of George Orwell and his central role in the American literary canon.
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Let’s begin with John Ellis’s opening remarks.
Topic: The corruption of the Humanities
Bio: Former Dean of the University of California at Santa Cruz and a Professor of German Literature
The main thrust of this book is that the nation faces one of the most serious crises that it's ever encountered because its entire educational system from top to bottom has been thoroughly corrupted by destructive political radicals. The problem: it's that the aims themselves have fundamentally changed. Higher education has decided to repurpose itself. Instead of producing new knowledge and a thoughtful well-formed citizenry, it wants to promote a political ideology.
Advanced societies obviously have all kinds of institutions to function: fire, police, courts, and so on. Only one of them has decided that it will do what it wants to do, not what society employs it to do. Academia has repurposed itself essentially without ever having asked or received permission to do that.
First of all, just how bad is the situation really? I’ve tried to give the public a strong sense of how extensive is the rot. The second question is, how can this have happened? We know that Harvard, Yale, Berkeley were brilliant places and deserved our respect for a long period of time. How is it possible that these places can have descended into what is utter buffoonery and stupidity.
The third basic question is what is the extent of the damage that's being done to our society? Academia trains journalists, school teachers, lawyers. And those professions are going to be corrupted too.
The fourth question really is what can we do to fix this? You can't persuade professors to do any better. They're solidly entrenched in those institutions. You cannot persuade those people to do differently, because that's what they want to do.
My point is that only the public is in position to change things because the only way forward is to decide that this travesty doesn't deserve public money any longer. State legislators ought to stop funding state universities until radical reform is done. And radical reform means removing from the classrooms people that are political activists and not professors at all.
From the Archives: You Can’t Teach That!
Speakers: Arnold Weinstein, David Grazian, and Patrick Allitt
Speaker 1: Arnold Weinstein
Topic: Increasing resistance to teaching Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.
Bio: Professor of English at Brown University
Speaker 2: David Grazian
Topic: The challenges of teaching Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities
Bio: Professor of Sociology at UPenn
Speaker 3: Patrick Allitt
Topic: Increasing relevance of George Orwell and his central role in the American literary canon
Bio: Professor of History at Emory University