Friday, July 19, 2013

It has always been thus.

Should those who lament the corporatization of the University--I'm looking at you, Lars Iyer, among many others--take heart from the fact that Malcolm Bradbury's Eating People Is Wrong (1959) reminds us that it's been going on for a long, long time? Or should it be yet another source of distress? From the novel:
Treece had never really wanted to come to the ball in the first place. It was the Vice-Chancellor, who spent the weeks before these student occasions in indefatigable effort, gathering up members of the faculty to go along in order, as he liked to express it, "to put up a bit of a show," who had tempted him here. The Vice-Chancellor, like all vice-chancellors, had clear ideas of what a university should look like, and taste like; vice-chancellors all share in common a Platonic ideal for a university. For one thing, it should be big. People should be coming to look at it all the time. There should be a special place for parking Rolls-Royces. There should be big sports grounds, a science building designed by Basil Spence, and more and more students coming every year. There should be new faculties--of Business Administration, of Aeronautical Engineering, of Sanitation, of Social Dancing. Vice-chancellors want big universities and a great many faculties; professors want small universities and only the liberal arts and pure sciences. Vice-chancellors always seem to win.
It's not quite Iyer's nightmare-born "Faculty of Sport," but it's close.

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