What the ‘Grievance Studies’ Hoax Means

 As the hoaxers explained in Areo, they targeted fields they pejoratively dub “grievance studies” — “gender studies, masculinities studies, queer studies, sexuality studies, psychoanalysis, critical race theory, critical whiteness theory, fat studies, sociology, and educational philosophy” — which they consider peculiarly susceptible to fashionable nonsense. Does the hoax identify something uniquely rotten in gender and sexuality studies, or could it just as easily have targeted other fields? Is it a salutary correction or a…

Photograph by Ellen Cantor from her Prior Pleasures series © The artist. Courtesy dnj Gallery, Santa Monica, California (Harper's)

The Printed Word in Peril: The age of Homo virtualis is upon us

Who, I thought, besides a multidisciplinary team in search of research funding, could possibly imagine that a digital account of the impact of reading digital print on human cognition would be effective? For such an account rests on the supremacy of the very thing it seeks to counteract, which can be summarized as a view of the human mind/brain that is itself computational in form.

Standardized Test Scores Don’t Really Measure Learning

There are ways to raise a child’s test scores that have nothing to with helping that child learn. In the past 10 years I have seen far more students — even the most capable, most brilliant students — paralyzed with fear about grades. In high school, you got good grades if you followed instructions and did exactly what the teacher told you to do. At the college level, I don’t…

The Decline of Humanities Enrollments and the Decline of Pre-Law

It’s a myth that humanities majors don’t care about post-graduation employment. What changed was the safety valve of subsequent law school enrollment.

Law school was long the default post-graduation plan for majors in qualitative fields. As long as you had the prospect of a lucrative legal career after college, you could safely major in English or poli sci. Those students didn’t ignore the vocational imperative; they just postponed it. And for a long time, that worked pretty well.

But the Great Recession, combined with AI and offshoring, did a number on law as a career option.