Fish reminds us of a simple idea: college writing courses ought to focus primarily on writing…:
“…the students spent much of their time discussing novels, movies, TV shows and essays on a variety of hot-button issues — racism, sexism, immigration, globalization.”
Perhaps at the cost of their writing skills. Yet, is Fish just going after the easy targets (where political and ideological aims often take precedence) in quoting the ACTA report?:
“Thirty-five years ago there was no such thing as a gay and lesbian studies program; now you can build a major around it. For some this development is a sign that a brave new world has arrived; for others it marks the beginning of the end of civilization.”
“It probably is neither; curricular alternatives are just not that world-shaking.”
Perhaps not. He highlights what he seems to consider the most insightful bit of wisdom the report (with its own aims) has to offer:
“An “important benefit of a coherent core curriculum is its ability to foster a ‘common conversation’ among students, connecting them more closely with faculty and with each other.”
He seems pretty pragmatic.
Addition: Of course, as Camille Paglia points out, movies, T.V., popular music etc. arguably is the culture for a great many Americans. Fish also feels the need to defend his justification of writing in the post.
Another Addition: Fish responds to his critics. If we were all held to such standards in our writing…
See Also On This Site: Conservative Briton Roger Scruton suggests keeping political and aesthetic judgments apart in the humanities: Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment
Fish suggested keeping politics out of academia during the Ward Churchill affair: From The Stanley Fish Blog: Ward Churchill Redux
Martha Nussbaum tried to tackle the humanities problem a while back: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’