Friday, April 13, 2007

Université, intellectuel, "anti-intellectualism"

A ma question opératoire de base, outil pédagogique de base - so what? -, je pense pouvoir adjoindre celle que me pointe G. Graff : "who [the f***] cares?"

Clueless in Academe. How Schooling Obscures the Life of the Mind (Graff, Yale UP, 2003), as "notes toward a field of clueless studies" 4, and plenty to harvest from it, avec ses conservatismes : "How teaching the conflicts - or any other educational approach - won't revitalize education as long as the culture of public argument remains opaque to many students and other citizens" 13.
"This book is an attempt by an academic to look at academia from the perspective of those who don't get it" 1. Thesis : "schools and colleges perpetuate the misconception that the life of the mind is a secret society for which only an elite few qualify." 1. Obfuscation 2. Mystification 3. Exclusion 11. Communicative ineptitude 21.

. academic alienation : irrelevant. "Boring, self-important, and dominated by insider orthodoxies" 9. Academic writing often bad 9. Intellectualspeak /Studentspeak 13 ("student conversations" 23 / Arguespeak 21. Arid, self-absorbed, rarefied 14. No social stakes. Intellectual club 35. Pretentiousness 43. anti-intellectualist tropes : nerds (/jocks), egghead, braniacs, control-freaks, ideologues, manipulative propagandists 44. . academic speak : remote and artificial 24. cognitive overload / multiple & disconnected curriculum 3.
. oppositions to intellectual pedagogy, internal resistance (ou méfiance) of academe : the body (training "emotional intelligence, moral character, visual & aesth sensitivity, creativity in story-telling and personal narrative" 3), et multicultural concern 4. Also : teaching undervalued in univs, "the overdrawn opposition between research & teaching" 10.

. 6 degrees of obfuscation : 1. taking academ discourse for granted 25, its language games, mind-stoppers, why make a problem out of... ; 2. the volleyball effect 27 disconnected & mixed-messages confusing curricula + vertical disconnection school/college ; 3. the overrating of fact [Hirsch, Cultural Literacy, 1987] ; 4. mystification of research (as separate - cf 35: "we need to rethink the assumption that the career interests of research scholars are best served when those scholars are released from undergrad teaching") ; 5. anti-intellectualism (incl. professional antiprofessionalism, self-loathing : won't change the minds of students already suspicious of the intellectual club as a haven of class snobbery or as a threat to their image of masc/ty or fem/ty, or to their class, ethnic, or racial identity") ; 6. the contrast of academic and popular culture + media 37: in fact estranged twins, common history in "same historical moment after the Civil War, each being a product of modernization, industrialism and liberal progressivism"38. popular : facile, sensational, vulgarly reductive, dominated by soundbites / down-to-earth, democratically accessible. Also cliché / schools' losing battles with popular entertainment.

. actual "convergence [,now,] between academia and the popular media" 1. Street-smart 2. 17 : "The university is popular culture, but it doesn't know it yet". Since WW2, outreach, broader influence on the wider society, generalize their specialities, demonstrate their wider applications 18.
"creeping intellectualism", current : academia now "part of the mass culture industry, which disseminates and popularizes theories and trends" 18. Academic disputes vicious now because much is indeed at stake in them (GG's list : "bilingual education, evolution and creationism, the new gender and race studies, grade inflation, and the teaching of literature, mathematics, and history extend far beyond the campus" 19). cf NYT "Campuses Across America Are Adding 'Sept. 11 101' to Curriculums" : turning current pbs into courses, which in turn become news in NYT. Since WW2 : massive democratization of higher education => Dead Poets Society etc., convergence of university presses & trade houses - terms of the hype : "paradigm-smashing, pathbreaking, broad-gauged". Culture wars period (80s-90s) : journalistic bashing of academics matched by glorification as "campus stars" [Cusset] in NYT, NPR (Fresh Air, Night Line). => Roseanne, ER... Trendiness, faddishness. Closer to the pulse of journalism & popular culture, which is in turn increasingly fascinated [? - disons en effet : c'est devenu un ingrédient culturel] by academics and their ideas 20. Univ is itself popular culture, serves millions, agent of mass popularization. Now mass enterprise, prerequisite of opportunity & mobility 21. 2000 Bush / Gore, more narrow then Eisenhower / egghead Adlai Stevenson in 50s. McCathyite know-nothings / current conservatives are intellectuals : Irving & William Kristol, William Bennett, David Brooks, Roger Kimball, Ralph Reed, Dinesh D'Souza, Pat Buchanan, Newt Gingrich [though to Bill O'Reilly, "intell" is still a term of abuse] 41.

. sociological causalities : concern for "democratic education", "anxieties about class snobbery & inferiority" 5. Exclusion, distinction, reproduction. "There are those that argue that the academic obfuscation I examine in this book is no accident. [...] when schooling keeps students mystified it is not failing at all, but working all too well at doing what our culture asks it to do, sorting students into cognitive haves and have-nots and therefore into society's winners and losers. [...] maintain high levels or social inequality [...] keep the cultural capital of literate public discourse out of the grubby hands of the riff-raff" - cynical view 14 (Academic Discourse, collectif de 1994, Bourdieu, Passeron, et al.)

. histoire :
. exclusivité de l'université : a pre-WW2 trope. Tiny social elite, et modèle du scholar : antiquarian et positivistic, narrow (fossil) pedantry, opposé à l'intellectuel, public : the big picture, application of the facts to contemporary life : journalists, clergy... 17. Rise of the modern research university
. since WW2 : massive postwar democratization of higher education 19.
. de l'anti-intellectualisme américain : 35 second-wind, as "old-fashioned varieties of Am anti-intell have been overlaid by new ones from the counterculture of the sixties and the New Age therapeutic culture" : Arguespeak is a male thing, a white thing, an upper middle class thing, a Western thing," 36, imposing a dominant culture of the marginalized & disenfranchised; teachers should encourage students to realize their own authentic voices.
. anti-public current context: students' "aversion to the role of public spokesperson that formal writing presupposes. Can't imagine any rewards for being a public actor or even imagine themselves in such a role 57.

This lack of interest in entering the public sphere may in turn reflect a loss of confidence in the possibility that the arguments we make in public will have an effect on the world. Today's students' lack of faith in the power of persuasion reflects the waning of the ideal of civic participation that led educators for centuries to place rhetorical and argumentative training at the center of the school and college curriculum [cf now instrumentality, technicity of "composition", having altogether dropped the consideration of "rhetoric"] . Underlying the centrality of this training was a classical conception of public citizenship that has come to seem unreal as the small town has given way to urban massification [see also, democratization of higher educ° - no longer the college polity] and as the ideal of the citizen has been displaced by that of the consumer. If even successful adults find it hard to imagine themselves influencing public policy through their rhetorical and argumentative skills, students figure to find it all the harder to visualize themselves in such public roles." 57 [cf ma question : who has a voice in America now? Do you feel you have a voice? How do you look for places where the voices you are interested in can be heard?]. [...] Given the notoriously widespread cynicism about the chances that our opinions (or votes) will influence public policy, it is hardly surprising if students are fatalistic too. These doubts about the payoff of persuasion underlie much of the student relativism that has been so widely deplored for hald a century now.

The emergence of the Internet, the electronic town meeting, and talk-back radio hold out promise that this cynical fatalism can be reversed. We may also be witnessing a revival of student idealism and activism [... ??] 58

. Graff's solutions and outlook : the culture of ideas and argument (comme prolongement de "teaching the conflicts") 2, "culture of books and ideas" 6. articulating ideas in public 2. Argument literacy 3. "Intellectual socialization" 12 as educational goal.
. so what? who cares? What's your point? What does it have to do with me? 10.
. "deep cognitive connection between controversy and intelligibility", (quotes JS Mill on it) 12, dialogical : "as opposed to what?". "is by writing the voices of others into their texts that students start learning to produce a public voice."14 "Becoming socialized into a way of life that changes who you are" 24. Join. Become a public self 57.
. find the continuums 24. Break up the exclusivity 25, demystify the 'club we belong to'.

. formation discursive dépliée autour : compositionists, sociolinguists, theorists of psychological
development, memorialists (of school days experiences), student surveys, Hirsch Cultural Literacy 1987, Richard Hofstadter's classic Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, 1963, Robert
Scholes The Crafty Reader 2000,

. chap 1 : "analyzing structures of academic obfuscation" 11.
. 2. The problem problem 43. Boredom, counterintuitive need to analyze, inventing
problems, defamiliarize, commonsense, self-interpreting texts, why study unintended meanings (dead authors), intell overreading. Pb with negativism and oppositionality, seen as agressive : axe to grind. Liberal pluralist commonsense: relativism ; or traditional backgrounds, argument is Godless secular humanism. Refusal to become the sort of public self that schooling assumes we all naturally want to be 57. => pour une éducation rhétorique : "Whatever side students come down on for these questions [why analyze, why question, why argue, etc.], opening these question for discussion has the desirable effect of positioning students as anthropologists, intellectual analysts, of their own academic lives" 61.
=> Epilogue : Argument Templates...

La question de l'intellectuel est celle du public. Et de son milieu discursif. Savoir-pouvoir.

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