Quote of Note
December 10, 2011
Or, We’re Much Too Fascinating to Register the Comedy:
I’m tempted to talk about the irony of kids taking out student loans to enrol in a class that will “study” why irate college grads who can’t get jobs are camped out in tents complaining about the amount they owe on student loans; but then I think, no, let’s let whole thing play itself out as a piece of cultural performance art and see if anybody involved in the enterprise is self-aware enough to remove him or herself as one of the brush strokes.
Jeff Goldstein, commenting on this thrilling development:
New York University will offer a class next semester on Occupy Wall Street… The university’s “Department of Social and Cultural Analysis” will offer a class about the “history and politics of debt and take a deeper look at the economic crisis the movement is protesting.” The undergraduate course: “Cultures and Economies: Occupy Wall Street” will be available next semester and taught by Professor Lisa Duggan.
Peter Bearman, professor of sociology at Columbia University, also expressed enthusiasm about the new course. “OWS as a topic of study offers prismatic opportunities to consider the changing shape of inequality in our society and the dynamic processes of repertoire change in social movements globally, from the picket line to the sit-in, to the consideration of life course trajectories, among other themes central to the sociological apprehension of the modern context,” he said.
And if you thought the story wasn’t sufficiently stuffed with inadvertent humour…
Ironically, you would need to be in OWS’s hated “1 percent” to pay the tuition bill at NYU, which was ranked 2nd on the 2011-2012 list of America’s most expensive colleges… The College Board lists per credit hour tuition at $1,159 at NYU.
I suppose it was inevitable. A laughable, profoundly dishonest, narcissistic “movement,” cheered on by leftist academics and their credulous protégés - David Graeber and Priya Gopal, take a bow - becomes a subject for “study” by leftist academics and their credulous protégés.
In the comments, rjmadden wonders whether Professor Duggan will be teaching students about the merits of not wasting money on worthless courses that leave them in debt with little hope of finding a job. He then links to Professor Duggan’s research interests, which include “lesbian and gay studies,” “queer historiographies” and “constructions of whiteness in the United States.” I suspect that sharing such practical advice wouldn’t exactly enhance Professor Duggan’s own career prospects, which depend on students making precisely that mistake.
Professor Duggan is described, rather generously, as “a specialist in modern US cultural, social and political history,” though I’m not sure why she warrants any credibility as a guide to the ‘occupy’ phenomenon and its remarkable delinquency, except insofar as she seems broadly sympathetic to it. Having browsed some of her material, I see that Duggan is a fan of “egalitarian co-operative thinking” and “practical utopian planning,” and has the obligatory fixation with collectivist identity politics, but dislikes Republicans and the idea of the nation state. The professor seems easily impressed by “radical” organisations that “make up new ways of living,” especially those that draw upon “historical resources including socialism, Pan-Africanism, anarchism, Third World anti-imperialism, women-of-colour feminism and sexual dissidence.” So the prospect of her subjecting the ‘occupy’ pantomime to a realistic appraisal seems a tad remote.
She is, though, the author of Sapphic Slashers, the aim of which is to “not to persuasively demonstrate an empirical link between lynching and lesbian love murder,” but “to offer a juxtaposition of customarily disconnected events and stories in order to show… how narrative technologies of sex and violence have been deployed to privatise and marginalise populations, political projects and cultural concerns.” Apparently Professor Duggan is “illustrating the work of sex and violence in making the state and the nation.” One reviewer described the book as “a dense, indigestible mass of post-modern verbiage.”
So, the kids are in good hands.
More than a half-dozen major museums and organiations from the Smithsonian Institution to the New-York Historical Society have been avidly collecting materials produced by the Occupy movement. Staffers have been sent to occupied parks to rummage for buttons, signs, posters and documents. Websites and tweets have been archived for digital eternity. And museums have approached individual protesters directly to obtain posters and other ephemera. The Museum of the City of New York is planning an exhibition on Occupy for next month. “Occupy is sexy,” said Ben Alexander, who is head of special collections and archives at Queens College in New York, which has been collecting Occupy materials. “It sounds hip. A lot of people want to be associated with it.”
At which point, comment seems unnecessary.
Update 4, via Rafi:
Columbia University will offer a new course for upperclassmen and grad students next semester. An Occupy Wall Street class will send students into the field and will be taught by Dr. Hannah Appel, a veteran of the Occupy movement. The course begins next semester and will be divided between class work at Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus and fieldwork that will require students to become involved with the Occupy movement outside of the classroom. The course will be called “Occupy the Field: Global Finance, Inequality, Social Movement.” It will be run by the anthropology department. […] Appel told the New York Post that while her involvement with the movement will colour the way she teaches, it will not prevent her from being an objective teacher.
I believe that’s called chutzpah.