Honour yet

May 26, 2016

I have had a lot of sympathy for Fred Inglis’ sharp criticisms of the grim reality of current academic life and practices; however, I found his piece “The lost honour of the life of the mind” deeply flawed on several accounts (Opinion, 19 May).

First of all, the point about propaganda being an “affair of huge posters” now replaced by “calm and confident iteration in the media” is not entirely correct – propaganda has always adopted more subtle strategies than boots and tanks alone; one only needs to remember the attention paid by dictators of the past to the education system, to the arts and to the most innovative media of their time. “Media” is not a contemporary invention, hence it might change, but the processes by which social instructions are internalised are hardly new.

What I found most disconcerting was the acknowledgement on one hand that “university teachers have never been any good at coordinated action” and the singling out of particular topics – sport, sex (which branch of sex-related knowledge has Inglis in mind?), business, media (an old favourite for mockery), social policy, remedial psychology and the theory of risk – as accomplices of “bloody old power”.

The collective action required to resist the most unpalatable aspects of the new order is not made any easier by attaching the label of collaborators to those who work conscientiously in the academic fields mentioned above. Inglis can rest assured that for many of them the honour of the life of the mind is not a thing of the past, yet.

Anna Notaro
Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee
Twitter: @notanna1


Send to

Letters should be sent to: THE.Letters@tesglobal.com
Letters for publication in Times Higher Education should arrive by 9am Monday.
View terms and conditions.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Forrest Post Doctoral Research Fellow

University Of Western Australia

Research Fellow in Statistical Epidemiology

London School Of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (lshtm)

Phone Advisor

Gsm London
See all jobs

Most Commented

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'