Wild Orchids and Trotsky: Messages from American Universities

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This book presents a unique and highly readable contribution to current debates about the crisis of authority in American universities. Several professors whose work has come under attack recently from the right respond through essays and interviews. In revealing their intellectual biographies, Edmundson humanizes figures and philosophies that have been caricatured and demonized. The strongest statements come from Harold Bloom and Edward Said. Said speaks of the arrogance of scholars on the right and on the left who believe they have the power to intervene in and affect the supposed revolutions going on in the academy. Bloom, with delightful eccentricity, skewers both sides as he holds up regard for aesthetic beauty of texts over what he calls the School of Resentment's reliance on theory. Richard Rorty and Judith Frank present poignant contributions, Rorty through a telling of his childhood passions for both social justice and pure beauty, Frank speaking of how her experience of breast cancer pervades her academic work. Though some pieces deteriorate into trivial matters, these reflections, in general, are a valuable addition to a surprisingly resilient public discussion. Edmundson's introduction provides helpful context. He is a professor of English at the University of Virginia. (Feb.)
Library Journal
This collection of autobiographical essays, written by those whom Roger Kimball calls ``tenured radicals'' ( Tenured Radicals , LJ 4/1/90), attempts to open lines of communication regarding the new liberal arts education. The 11 articles and two interviews (with Edward Said and Harold Bloom) represent a group of prominent writers of the new PC (politically correct) humanities departments, which are (according to the authors) maligned by conservatives such as Dinesh D'Souza ( Illiberal Education , LJ 3/15/91), David Lehman ( Signs of the Times , LJ 3/1/91), and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Instead of discussing the decline of humane learning owing to the advance of multicultural studies, feminism, deconstruction, or other ills, the authors explain that a new humanism is emerging as an international doctrine without boundaries by nations or other groupings. This is an interesting compilation of personal testimonies on a controversial subject. The lead article alone, by Richard Rorty, makes this a worthy addition to humanities collections.-- Arla Lindgren, St. John's Univ., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140170788
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/15/1993
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Academy Writes Back 1
Trotsky and the Wild Orchids 29
My Kinsman, T. S. Eliot 51
Decades 77
Expanding Humanism: An Interview 99
In the Waiting Room: Canons, Communities, "Political Correctness" 125
The Falls of Academe 151
Discipline and Theory 171
Authority and Originality: An Interview 193
Crashing the Party: Women in the Academy Now 217
Queer and Now 237
Handling "Crisis": Great Books, Rap Music, and the End of Western Homogeneity 267
Thinking Like Other People 287
Pragmatism and the Sentence of Death 307
Bibliography of Related Writing 339
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