Goof-Off Readings: Genesis; The Muqaddimah; The End of History and the Last Man; Guns, Germs and Steel

Well, the Weekly Standard has tagged my course, The Whole Enchilada: Debates in World History, as a lightweight bit of fluff. Read the syllabus and decide for yourself.

If they’d only be patient! The History of Play and Leisure is next year, guys.

Maybe our colleges really are failing, if the research skills of certain conservatives are any guide. Unless the author of the article in question didn’t go to college and is just trying to recycle Ross Douthat’s Privilege for a quick space-filler.

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13 Responses to Goof-Off Readings: Genesis; The Muqaddimah; The End of History and the Last Man; Guns, Germs and Steel

  1. Alan Jacobs says:

    That is the absolute limit of patheticness. Scan a few course titles and sneer for 800 words? That is the level of total patheticosity than which no greater can be conceived.

  2. Greebie says:

    I guess Joseph Lindslay would rather everyone take courses in microeconomics where they can learn basic theories that don’t work when set to empirical data.

    I take it also that he doesn’t realize that a course on the history Seafaring is really a course on the beginnings of industrialization and capitalism.

    What a stinker. I want to sign up for your course now!

  3. If that’s his idea of “lightweight fluff”…. yeesh.

    Remind me to keep my course titles and descriptions boring.

  4. Leo says:

    “Remind me to keep my course titles and descriptions boring.”

    I’m not sure modifying the descriptions would help, as the author of this piece gives no evidence of having read any descriptions.

  5. Timothy Burke says:

    That’s true: he clearly just skims titles. No wonder he shows great familiarity with hanging around eating potato chips and watching TV: that’s obviously how he generates his reportage.

  6. Ralph says:

    It would have been hard to come up with a better illustration for your criticism of the conservative attack on higher ed course offerings than Lindsley offered up.

  7. CMarko says:

    I don’t think I can adequately express how outrageous I find this assessment. I took and loved Whole Enchilada, and it was by far the most rigorous class of my first year at Swarthmore (and possibly my second year, come to think of it). It was the first class that made me really step up my work to a college level. Call it the opposite of fluff. And Lindsley’s criticism is made more ludicrous by the fact that he might actually approve of the reading list if he saw it–we read The Rise of the West, for pete’s sake.

    I’m equally appalled by how quick he is to associate liberal or postmodern course material (e.g. gay and lesbian literature) with easy classes and lazy students. Whether or not students should be working hard is one issue; what they should be studying is another.

    Think Lindsley would be even moderately shamed by an angry letter from me? My guess is he’d write me off as a gender studies-taking, cheetos-eating, blue-state coed. Sheesh.

  8. bbenzon says:

    Trouble is, your letter would be coming from reality, and that’s not where Lindsley is. He had to ignore a lot to get to the point where he can write such fluff. I’m afraid a letter from you wouldn’t register, water off a duck’s back, etc.

  9. Doug says:

    CMarko, I’d say dash off a letter. You never know. And even (maybe especially) something as stupid as Lindsley’s article deserves pushback.

  10. Ralph says:

    Lindsley got two e-mails from me. I haven’t had a reply. But I thought he ought to know that he’s taken a beating on two or three sites on the net.

  11. ProfPTJ says:

    I feel like the Weekly Standard slighted me by picking on Tim’s (really excellent-looking, btw) course. I mean, I teach a course on social science and science fiction, and I didn’t get blacklisted — what is the world coming to? Sheesh.

  12. mrscoulter says:

    Doesn’t everyone eat potato chips while they read Foucault?

  13. kthomas says:

    Tim, you clearly do not understand. The use of the word enchilada, regardless of the context, reading materials or work, clearly presents a grave challenge to the canon, and indeed, western civilization itself. As a fellow Williams alum, I am shocked and ashamed at this behavior. You are deluting the value of the degree! Use a honest-to-god American word, such as hambeurger! If English was good enough for…

    (Saludos de la Cuidad de M??xico. Don’t have that reading list in a pdf anywhere? Enrique Krauze might be interesting to consider. &: Somewhat crossposted from ephBlog,

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