December 28, 2016

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: American Studies: A Sad Tale of Academic Decline. “Once it was a vibrant and useful discipline. Today, I’m sad to report, it is a regular source for ‘What wacky stuff are they up to on campus?’ articles and blogs. . . . I might chuckle if I weren’t employed and mentally invested in the field, and if I did not have residual respect for the open-minded, pragmatic approaches which marked American Studies for the first decades of its existence. But sadly, for the last generation, American Studies—beset by a nagging awareness that making interdisciplinarity the norm when studying culture became mission accomplished at least 20 years ago—has scooted pell-mell towards politicization in a misbegotten effort to remain relevant. The result today is an academic sub-specialty wedded to a tightly-corseted belief that the United States represents the locus of sin (racism, sexism, colonialism, and the like) in the modern world, and that any study of America should restrict itself to call-outs and condemnations. American Studies now serves chiefly as validation system for academicians who know their findings in advance: racism, sexism, and imperialism.”

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