Scott Wilson's lively review of Alan Sinfield's Cultural Politics - Queer Reading, in last week's THES raises a fundamental question about the role of the university. Wilson questions Sinfield's resurrection of Gramsci's idea of the organic intellectual, but too readily asks us to accept that current bureaucratic values of performance and excellence should be the focus, for intellectual concern. Sinfield's book, whatever you think of Gramcsi, rightly challenges those of us in the academic community to re-think the role of the intellectual in our late modern societies.
The problem with both performance and excellence is that they value conformity and institutional loyalty, whereas pluralist societies need universities to be centres of dissent which encourage differing narratives, if they are to play a progressive role.
Senior lecturer in law