Marc Bousquet’s “The Moral Panic in Literary Studies”

by VanessaVaile

Fractal Realism

Online platforms (blogs, twitter, and Facebook) continue to chip away at the hierarchies of academic power and prestige. Marc Bousquet takes his printed critique of the corporate or managerial university a step farther by pointing out literary studies’ erosion—its journey to becoming as small and marginal as Classics departments—in a Chronicle of Higher Education piece, “The Moral Panic in Literary Studies.” As usual in these times, the reasons for this decline are various and complicated. More complicated still is that Bousquet’s article and his department’s reply position the CHE commentary as just another salvo in a literature department closet drama. Disappointing.

Bousquet’s How the University Works was controversial for pointing out that the contemporary university employs legions of poorly paid contingent faculty (graduate students, adjuncts, Visiting Assistant Professors, postdocs, etc.) to teach the bulk of its courses, while reducing or not growing the number of tenure-track faculty. His article “The…

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