The Past We Need Now
This book ends in the 1970s, on the cusp of major changes in higher education that shape the teaching of English today—the financialization of student debt; the withdrawal of state funding from public universities; the casualization of academic labor; and the massive expansion of university administrations. One of the effects of these changes has been to leave humanities faculty, university administrators, and the general public with a sense that humanities teaching and humanities research are vastly different, even incompatible, activities. Though English professors know that research and knowledge production happen in the classroom as much as in the library or the study, the absence of a shared, official history and collective memory of their inseparability, and of teaching’s role in knowledge production specifically, has left the humanities vulnerable to interests inside and outside the university that profit from declaring humanities research valueless and teaching a failing endeavor to be radically reinvented. This book has begun the work of writing the long history of how our teaching has made our scholarship and how scholarship has happened in all kinds of undergraduate classrooms that will help us imagine a better future for literary study and for higher education.
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