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What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?: Classroom Politics and "Bias" in Higher Education Paperback – September 17, 2007
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The first portion of the book is mostly a summary of the conservative arguments against state sponsored higher education and his responses to them. Mostly his target is Horowitz, a verbal critic of higher education and the "liberal" bias. I found Berube's responses to be very well constructed and rational. His arguments (rightly) make Horowitz look like your standard Bill O'Reilly-style foolish conservative. He moves on and paints a fairly general overview of the standard political environment among college students (although, I found him somewhat unfair to Ayn Rand).
From there, Berube goes into extreme detail of the two courses which he teaches - a general literature course and an advanced postmodernism course. I found this part of the book painful and tough to work through, particularly for someone with a limited background in Postmodernism (67 pages on his postmodernism class alone). The function of these chapters, I gleaned, was to credit his students for being capable of digesting philosophical complexities and applying them to the modern world. In turn, crediting the liberal higher education system for it's success even in the face of students with often conservative views (such as a student, Stan, who wrote a paper in disagreement with Berube, but still received an A). These chapters also establish Berube as an antifoundationalist and humanist.Read more ›
Then the author moves into a discussion of some of the books he teaches, but the literary criticism is only tangentially related to the topic of classroom politics or bias, or, for that matter, liberalism.
The material on postmodernism is interesting and has a political element, but would be better placed in a primer on pomo.
Finally, the last chapter is a ringing endorsement of the sort of liberalism that has been out of fashion since the Kennedy era but that is nonetheless safe. Thus pages applauding Social Security (the folks down at the local book club will nod and smile) but no comments about affirmative action, US military adventures, gay marriage or other more current issues. Their absence is conspicuous. The far left is dismissed as either a collection of lunatics or Bush fans in disguise (voting for Nader being equivalent to voting for Bush). And, of course, none of this has a thing to do with the liberal arts or charges of bias.
of worry that the secret police will come to take away his son, some philosophical debating,
assorted academic anecdotes, and even some words about the apparent topic of the book.
The author is also strange. I have never before noticed an author post replies to reviews.
This is not necessarily bad, but it is unusual. Perhaps this review will draw a comment, also.
Perhaps it will stop the comments, by pointing them out.
The title is "What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?" and the question mark is part of the title.
The subtitle is "Classroom Politics and 'Bias' in Higher Education" and the inner quotes are
part of the subtitle. I've seen lots of attacks on liberal educators, some of which seemed
justified and some of which turned out to be false. The quoted "bias" seemed to indicate a
debunking or counterattack, so I was immediately interested.
Chapter one is personal. The author had an outspoken conservative student in a class. He is shown
as disruptive. The author treated him fairly. In chapter two, the author debunks three claims
of liberal academic misbehavior. So far he has me convinced there is at least one fair liberal
professor and no more than 99.44% of the conservative complaints are justified. Well, it's a
start. Maybe there will be more.
The author is a skilled writer and rhetorician. Here and through most of the book he lines up
a few facts or beliefs as if the next line was going to be "therefore <conservative person/idea
is <wrong/bad/evil/whatever" but he does not write that.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
On page 96, Professor Berube makes this false and terribly unfair comment: "Canadian professor J. Phillippe Rushton's belief in the genetic superiority of the white race. Read morePublished on April 7, 2009 by Albert Himoe
That a reviewer can label his review, as does the guy below me, "thesisless": that a reviewer can so use the commonly false argument that "dis has nuttin to do widdat": indicates... Read morePublished on November 24, 2007 by Edward G. Nilges
So far find it very readable for an academic book. Fascinating and credible.Published on April 20, 2007 by avid reader
Berube's book is useful not for what it claims to teach but for what it reveals about the deficincies of the leftist academic takeover he is defending. Read morePublished on March 15, 2007 by David Williams