From the Publisher
"[This book] is invariably smart, stimulating, and provocative. It is filled with insights and crackles with verve. It is a joy to take in." --Texas Law Review
"Particularly clear and engaging prose--a far-from-common gift in such a high-powered thinker." --Rocky Mountain News
"Fish's lively polemic skewers the popular perspective." --Publishers Weekly
"Is deeply committed to teaching and to higher education and relishes presenting his views with zest and wide-ranging scholarship... is a great debater and is ready to scold all who confuse the issues, including faculty, students, trustees, and members of Congress... this work is recommended for public and academic library readers who enjoy a lively interchange." --Library Journal
Fish's lively polemic skewers the popular perspective that universities have an obligation to foster "ethical, social, and political virtues," arguing that academic institutions are best served by admitting to the distinct (and limited) nature of their task: "[to] introduce students to bodies of knowledge and traditions of inquiry... and equip [them] with the analytical skills that will enable them to move confidently within those traditions and to engage in independent research." To professors using their podium to politically influence or engage with their students, the author chides: "Do your job," "Don't try to do someone else's job" and "Don't let anyone else do your job"-and offers refreshing takes on Ward Churchill, Bob Newhart and how writing ought to be taught. Despite the repetitive reiteration of initial premises and a few rhetorical inconsistencies, Fish's penultimate chapter shows off his unconventional style in its most personable guise; he lays out a simple strategy by which academics and administrators may fight (not "work with") those who demand that academia justify itself; he writes, "The only honest thing to do when someone from outside asks, 'what use is this venture anyway?' is to answer 'none whatsoever.' " (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Fish (law, Florida International Univ.), former dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois in Chicago, is deeply committed to teaching and to higher education and relishes presenting his views with zest and wide-ranging scholarship. He thinks universities should focus on teaching academic skills and analysis, avoiding politics. But he knows that universities are currently threatened by political activists on both the Left and the Right. He confronts both William Bennett and the cultural conservatives and Ward Churchill and left-wing activists and explains how they both attempt to distort the university's rightful role. Fish, an eminent Milton scholar, is a great debater and is ready to scold all who confuse the issues, including faculty, students, trustees, and members of Congress. Seven loosely connected essays in this volume urge universities to focus on their core role and exhort faculty to teach, acknowledging the support provided by administrators and pleading for appropriate resources for higher education. His many interesting insights into higher education issues may be presented here in a hectoring tone, but this work is recommended for public and academic library readers who enjoy a lively interchange.
Elizabeth R. Hayford