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Monday, June 3, 2013


Here is a smart guy (originally, I think) made a little dumber by having a conservative agenda. He wrote one of those dumb "kids today" books. It's hard to sort out all this. I would oppose an English field segmented into various identity politics groups + environmentalism, but my experience in KU is that people do a variety of things, usually very well, from composition to medieval, and that there are many undergraduate students who love the department's dedicated teachers. You can get a good conversation going about Melville, Kerouac, or Shakespeare. Of course, what do I know: I only have a half dozen close friends in the department and know another half dozen more casually, and another 6 to say hi to.

Also, despite my reservations about identity / exceptionalist politics on some level, I actually don't see much choice. I don't see why studying James Baldwin is any worse than devoting oneself to Pynchon or Mailer. At this point, ruling out identity politics would bring us back to the white male canon. If I'm bored with that, as a white male, then I imagine everyone else would be too.

I see the same romanticism / exceptionalism in Harold Bloom as in the people Bloom calls the "school of resentment." The same mentality can skew right or left, but it's important to note the difference. If we have to have American exceptionalism let's have a left-wing version.


Spanish prof said...

Has he written something interesting, scholarly wise? I am really curious. I bought for a few dollars on a library sale "The Dumbest Generation", and it was enough to take him off my reading list forever. It's the worst kind of cultural criticism, with little data, unproven affirmations, etc. I like reading smart conservatives, they give you food for thought. I've read more William Buckley than you would imagine. But Bauerlein just seems to take cheap shots.

Spanish prof said...

And here is an angry answer:

Jonathan said...

I don't know. I haven't read his legit stuff he was doing before he became a culture warrior.