I just saw the announcement for the Holberg International Memorial Prize. This year the award goes to Fredric R. Jameson. In addition to this great honor, Dr. Jameness will receive 4.5 m NOK (roughy, $775,000 USD).
I have one question: Jameson? This man has been a one-man wrecking crew in the humanities and social sciences. He will leave the academic world poorer than he found it.
I do not mean this merely polemically.
Here's Louis Menand's on the state of the American academy:
What happened to the humanistic disciplines happened in two stages, and we are just emerging (if we are in fact to emerge) from the second stage. In the beginning, what took place was not a redefinition of disciplinarity so much as a kind of antidisciplinarity. Academic activity began flowing toward paradigms that defined themselves essentially in antagonism towards traditional disciplines.
Menand detects here,
a widely diffused skepticism about the universality of any particular line of inquiry or pedagogy, and a rigorously enforced suspicion of the notion of "rigor." In English, the discipline that seems, to its own practitioners and to others, the most thoroughly at sea, the mood is more of bewilderment than anything else.
Oh, splendid. A scholarship derailed by antidisciplinarity. An enguiry that is post-paradigmatic. Well, no one really cares what a college professor does with his career. But rewarding him with honors of this order, that just seems wrong. Shouldn't bewilderment be its own reward?
Menand, Louis. 2001. The Marketplace of Ideas. American Council of Learned Societies. No. 49. here.
For more on the Holberg Prize, go here.
With thanks for the photograph to Holbergprisen/Andrea Friestad Nyland.