1. Bauerlein can’t even bring himself to say, “Hey, it’s not cool to attack dissertations you haven’t read in a field that you preemptively deem uninteresting about subjects that you aggressively maintain could never be of any interest whatsoever”. But hey, it’s not like Bauerlein has argued for preserving the serious close reading of canonical literature in a dedicated way. Or argued for knowing the context of texts so well that he’s requiring students to accurately summarize content. Because it would be crazy to believe in those things and yet be utterly indifferent to someone who condemns texts based on a prideful ignorance of their actual content or any domain of knowledge connected to them. This isn’t even good concern trolling, let alone remotely worthy of someone who claims to be interested in preserving academia’s sacred values.
2. Sorry, not clear on why literary study doesn’t have a social mission, indeed, several of them. Recalling in specific that Mark Bauerlein believes that literary study has to…reclaim its social mission to preserve national and civilizational traditions that bring us all together as people. Or was that several think-tank funding cycles ago? I have such a short memory.
3. Wait, also: I’m sorry, what kind of teacher are you if you don’t understand why someone writing in an influential industry publication attacking your students or colleagues from an aggressively ignorant position is seriously not cool? A good teacher is a mentor, a protector, a guide. You don’t ignore it when people you have nurtured, guided, valued, are attacked simply to score points with the peanut gallery. If you do, you’re not a good teacher. So this is a moment that divides the teachers from the self-interested intellectuals: what side are you on? A good teacher rallies to the side of fellow good teachers, despite any principled disagreements they have with the work that’s being defended. If you’re sure the work isn’t worth defending and the testimony of fellow teachers is therefore worthless, be goddamn sure you’re right on the merits of your criticism.