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By Michael Bérubé, J. Ruth

This e-book is a full of life, passionate defence of latest paintings within the humanities, and, past that, of the collage procedure that makes such paintings attainable. The book's stark bills of educational labour, and its proposals for reform of the tenure process, are novel, debatable, well timed, and intensely necessary.

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But there is a curious strain of anti-elitism on the left that plays into this logic as well. ” College teachers are part of the workforce at large, not special snowflakes that require extra protection. There is nothing college teachers need—in material or intellectual terms—that every other worker in the world does not need. This aspirationally egalitarian argument, we think, badly misunderstands the nature of academic freedom and the nature of college teaching; and we will address it when we talk about the role of contingent faculty in campus governance.

Queer theorists had—and still have—good reason to suspect that much resistance to their work is grounded in rank homophobia. And the need to defend queer theory from rank 34 Value and Values homophobes obscured, for some years, another kind of useful trouble with the queer project—its rejection of the rhetoric of the universal. “Rejection” is perhaps too strong a word, because things weren’t quite so simple, but certainly few academic humanists in the 1990s felt comfortable handling the term “universal” without first donning protective outergear.

If however you advance a principle as universalist, a principle that makes that open-ended promise, you are obliged to admit all comers and take on all challenges, from anyone and everyone who believes that your claim to universalism isn’t sufficiently universalist. That, finally, is why I’m ultimately with Habermas (and Thurgood Marshall) in the belief that modernity is an incomplete project. The study of disability, and the history of disability, has led me to believe that only the promise of universalism holds out the hope for an adequately capacious understanding of humans and the humanities.

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