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More Evidence that Stanley Fish is an Old Curmudgeon

January 26, 2009

Stanley Fish, a champion of Reader Response well known for his books Is There a Text in This Class? The Authority of Interpretive Communities, is a first class scholar and–in recent years–little more than your run-of-the-mill academic curmudgeon: a reader needs to spend no more than a few minutes scanning his NYT blog Think Again to understand as much.

A recent article by Fish, “The Last Professor,” argues that academic communities–especially those of the humanities ilk–“characterized by a determined inutility” are doomed to be slowly driven out of academia. Of course Fish makes this argument sound much better than my reduction, but I stand my interpretation.

Not only is his suggestion that the humanities exist in an academic ivory tower specious, his grasp of historical academe is a bit off too. Mark Liberman, linguistics professor at UPenn and editor of The Language Log makes the case of Fish’s historical inaccuracies using the charters of Fish’s own institutions.

Fish concludes his argument with the statement that he believe he was born in exactly the right moment in academics because the humanities are losing favor. It is my belief that the humanities will always play a vital role in society.

To quote Paulo Freire, “Literature teaches students to read the words and the World.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 27, 2009 11:48 am

    I couldn’t agree with you more.

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