Sunday, 18 December 2016

American universities are both the best in the world - and a laughing stock

I've just started following a Twitter feed called New Real Peer Review, which posts extracts from the sort of stunningly ridiculous twaddle currently being excreted by many American universities. Most of us never see this codswallop, because it's written in a strange, impenetrable language and it addresses non-issues and non-subjects which would strike most people - including, I suspect, most intellectuals - as the most appalling load of pretentious, meaningless balls. From what I've read, this drivel isn't meant to help anyone better understand our world or to increase our store of knowledge, but is rather an attempt to create an alternative cultural Marxist fantasy universe in which every traditional standard of scholarship, sense, taste and discrimination has been jettisoned in order to shape a bizarre narrative of victimhood, suffering and oppression which bears absolutely no relation whatsoever to reality. Take the case of Jennifer Christine Nash...

...who is described on the Harvard University website in the following terms:
Jennifer C. Nash is Associate Professor of African American Studies and Gender & Sexuality Studies at Northwestern University where she researches and teaches in the areas of black feminisms, black sexual politics, race and law, and visual culture. She is the author of The Black Body in Ecstasy (Duke University Press, 2014) which was awarded the Alan Bray Memorial Book Prize from the GL/Q Caucus of the Modern Language Association.  She is also the author of articles appearing in journals including Social Text, Signs, Feminist Studies, Feminist Review, and GLQ.  Along with AAAS PhD alum Emily A. Owens, she edited a special issue of Feminist Formations focused on the institutional politics of women’s studies.   She has held fellowships at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research and at Columbia University's Society of Fellows, and her research has been supported by the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in Women's Studies, and the Woodrow Wilson Junior Faculty Career Enhancement Fellowship.
Here's a sample of her "work" (to preserve your sanity, you might just read the sections helpfully highlighted by New Real Peer Review:

If anyone could tell me what "a historically contingent set of racialised meanings, pleasures and profits" is when it's at home, I'd be grateful. Or, come to think of it, I probably wouldn't be:

FFS.  In case you're looking for a last-minute Christmas present for your mum or your partner, you could be onto a winner with Ms. Nash's aforementioned The Black Body in Ecstacy (Duke University Press, 2014):
In case you imagine Ms. Nash is an exception, here's an extract from the writings of a George Washington University grad student:
I do not seek to make sweeping claims about the semiotics of blackness or flesh. Rather, I encounter flesh as a contested conceptual site for thinking through the repercussions of cultural and visceral violence in Afro-Pessimist discourses. Flesh, as an archival register, comes to us in Spillers's discussion of the marks of violence on the captive body: "lacerations, woundings, fissures, tears, scars, openings, ruptures, lesions, rendings, punctures" conceived as "hieroglyphics of the flesh." This fleshy archive is a foundational and cryptic script to which Spillers designates a "cultural vestibularity," in the sense that the culture of sanctioned violence passes through and requires this passage-chamber of "undecipherable markings"—of unthought flesh, "whose severe disjunctures come to hidden to the cultural seeing by skin color" (67). Violently inscribed with and then left violently unthought by culture, this history inscribed on flesh is relegated to a "lower level in the hierarchy of memories."[2] As a result of this encryption, the continued violence against black bodies is sanctioned and "justified."[3] Deadened, silenced, sanitized, and commodified by cultural grammars of denial, black flesh is yet vital and alive as an inner register of antiblack violence, dense with the traumatic energy of erasure that is its imposed grammar.
I studied philosophy, and so I'm used to reading obscure, complex texts written by extraordinarily clever people trying to grapple with the ineffable. The problem with all this queer theory, feminist theory, black studies, gender studies crud is that it's all too effable: it boils down to one startlingly simple message: "There's suffering in the world - and it's all the fault of white men!" Why not just say that? 

Despite appearances to the contrary, I'm a fairly optimistic cove. But the fact that this sort of nonsense is spewing out of universities in what is still the most powerful country in the world does tend to make one suspect that Western civilisation is doomed. 

Of course, British universities aren't far behind when it comes to blaming men for everything. Here's a section from an abstract describing a paper entitled: "Women's ways of working: Circumventing the masculine structures operating within and upon the University":
Three female, and feminist, academics become participant researchers to explore their working practices seeking to make visible the ways they work to wo(manage) the masculinist environment of the University. After reviewing the literature, the paper starts by considering what ‘masculinist’ means in this context, finding that it refers to both rigidity of structure positioned as ‘impartial’ and, paradoxically, processes that enable competition and the clear identification of winners and losers; a University regime compatible with neo-liberal governance. Such values are at odds with those promoted within Early Years Education where ‘caring’ and ‘inclusion’ are fundamental, embedded in a strong ‘domestic’ tradition. The paper examines the historical practice of transferring ‘mothering’ skills into the educational institution and considers current attitudes and behaviours in relation to this synergy.  

God. Give. Me. Strength.

No comments:

Post a Comment