The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind [NOOK Book]

Overview

An eye-opening critique of the identity-based revolution that has transformed American campuses and its effect on politics and society today.

The 1960s and ’70s were a time of dramatic upheaval in American universities as a new generation of scholar-activists rejected traditional humanism in favor of a radical ideology that denied esthetic merit and objective truth. In The Victims’ Revolution, critic and scholar Bruce Bawer provides the first true history of this radical ...

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The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind

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Overview

An eye-opening critique of the identity-based revolution that has transformed American campuses and its effect on politics and society today.

The 1960s and ’70s were a time of dramatic upheaval in American universities as a new generation of scholar-activists rejected traditional humanism in favor of a radical ideology that denied esthetic merit and objective truth. In The Victims’ Revolution, critic and scholar Bruce Bawer provides the first true history of this radical movement and a sweeping assessment of its intellectual and cultural fruits.

Once, Bawer argues, the purpose of higher education had been to introduce students to the legacy of Western civilization—“the best that has been thought and said.” The new generation of radical educators sought instead to unmask the West as the perpetrator of global injustice. Age-old values of goodness, truth, and beauty were disparaged as mere weapons in an ongoing struggle of the powerful against the powerless. Shifting the focus of the humanities to the purported victims of Western colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism, the new politicized approach to the humanities gave rise to a series of identity-based programs, including Women’s Studies, Black Studies, Queer Studies, and Chicano Studies. As a result, the serious and objective study of human civilization and culture was replaced by “theoretical” approaches emphasizing group identity, victimhood, and lockstep “progressive” politics.

What have the advocates of this new anti-Western ideology accomplished?

Twenty-five years ago, Allan Bloom warned against the corruption of the humanities in The Closing of the American Mind. Bawer’s book presents compelling evidence that Bloom and other conservative critics were right to be alarmed. The Victims’ Revolution describes how the new identity-based disciplines came into being, examines their major proponents and texts, and trenchantly critiques their underlying premises. Bawer concludes that the influence of these programs has impoverished our thought, confused our politics, and filled the minds of their impressionable students with politically correct mush. Bawer’s book is must-reading for all those concerned not only about the declining quality of American higher education, but also about the fate of our society at large.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Postmodern academia’s cult of race-class-and-gender victimization is oppressing the rest of us, according to this feisty j’accuse. Literary critic Bawer (A Place at the Table) mounts major assaults on once trendy, now entrenched university humanities programs in feminist studies, black studies, Chicano studies, and queer theory, along the way savaging Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Michael Eric Dyson, and other intellectual grandees. He pillories these disciplines for being anti-capitalist and anti-American; their ever more baroque subcategorizations of victimhood (he’s incensed that queer theory lumps gay white men like him in with the oppressors); their knee-jerk defense of Muslim cultures steeped in the sexism and homophobia they otherwise deplore; the stale jargon and rote clichés they substitute for original scholarship; and their vision of society as a tapestry of balkanized groups rather than discerning individualism. Bawer scores lots of entertaining points against the insufferable posturing and unreadable prose that pervades identity studies, but his critique seldom engages seriously with the intellectual content of the field; mostly he denounces the idea of dragging politics and sociology into the hallowed precincts of the humanities. Bawer’s is a lively, cantankerous takedown of a juicy target. Agent: John Talbot, the Talbot Agency. (Sept.)
Jay Nordlinger
“This is a vital, sparkling, and truth-telling book.”
Wall Street Journal
“The developments described by Mr. Bawer will not surprise readers familiar with the campus wars that broke out in the 1980s, when entire departments devoted to these fields began to be established. Where the author’s text shines is in explaining their root causes.”
National Review
“The book is terrific, exposing the academic criminality that those programs encourage — i.e., teaching naïve and impressionable students things that either are utterly false or are merely wild-eyed opinions as truth....I strongly recommend the book.”
Booklist
“This book is an adventure in American religious thought, exciting and intelligent.”
Library Journal
Since Bawer's While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within was a New York Times best seller and a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, it's worth paying attention to his latest, a critique of how identity politics have shaped the academy in the last four decades. Nicely controversial; with a 50,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews
Bawer (The New Quislings: How the International Left Used the Oslo Massacre to Silence Debate About Islam, 2012, etc.) attacks the alleged takeover of American universities by identity studies faculty who turn students into close-minded, America-bashing semi-intellectuals. The author devotes the bulk of his polemic to what he sees as the undesirable academic disciplines of women's studies, black studies, Chicano studies and queer studies. (Bawer is openly gay but asserts that he is not a mainstream gay man intellectually.) He believes the corruption of entire university campuses derived from liberal/radical movements of the 1960s. The college students who grew up during that era frequently became professors, individuals guided by a belief that oppressed groups should be studied as movements, with little emphasis on individual rights. In Bawer's version of American higher education, anti-capitalist, anti-American authors such as Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, Paulo Freire and Antonio Gramsci dominate campus curricula, driving out more moderate scholars who celebrate the current strengths and future possibilities of the United States. Bawer offers copious anecdotes as representative of across-the-board reality on thousands of American college campuses. These anecdotes are purported to prove his already formed hypothesis, rather than allowing a hypothesis to grow organically from hard evidence. Toward the end of the book, Bawer throws in attacks on additional identity study realms, including disability studies, fat studies, men's studies and whiteness studies. He calls on parents of potential college students to examine curricula carefully and avoid campuses--even the Harvards and the Yales--that he believes have been hopelessly compromised. Bawer is a powerful user of language relying on weak evidence and preconceived notions to create a questionable reality.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062097064
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/4/2012
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 513,272
  • File size: 710 KB

Meet the Author

A native New Yorker who has lived in Norway since 1999, Bruce Bawer has written several influential books on a range of issues. A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society (1993) was named by columnist Dale Carpenter as the most important non-fiction book about homosexuality published in the 1990s; Publishers Weekly called Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity (1997) “a must-read book for anyone concerned with the relationship of Christianity to contemporary American culture”; While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam Is Destroying the West from Within (2006) was a New York Times bestseller and a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist; and Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom (2009) was hailed by Booklist as “immensely important and urgent." He has also published several collections of literary and film criticism, including Diminishing Fictions and The Aspect of Eternity, and a collection of poetry, Coast to Coast, which was selected by the Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook as the best first book of poems published in 1993. He is a frequent contributor to such publications as The Hudson Review, City Journal, The American Scholar, Wilson Quarterly, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, and has reviewed books regularly for the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, and Wall Street Journal.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    Excellent writing and factual documentation. Unfortunately the author is probably largely preaching to the choir.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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