Sunday, September 08, 2019


Make the Library Your Teacher

Camille Paglia, "An Open Letter to the Students of Harvard," Harvard Crimson (February 17, 1994), rpt. in her Vamps & Tramps: New Essays (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), pp. 117-121 (at 120):
The solution is in your hands. You can bring learning back to the center of the university. You can end the era of gimmicky theory. You can demand that quality of scholarship, rather than slick wordplay, be the standard for employment at Harvard. How? First make the library your teacher. Rediscover the now neglected works of the great scholars of the last 150 years, who worked blessedly free of the mental pollutants of poststructuralism. Immerse yourself in the reference collection, and master chronology and etymology. Refuse to cooperate with the coercive ersatz humanitarianism that insultingly defines women and African-Americans as victims. Insist on free thought and free speech. Offensiveness is a democratic right. The university should be organized around vigorous intellectual inquiry, not therapy or creature comforts.

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