Professors in the humanities and social sciences are expected to apply the most popular analyses to their disciplines, whether that’s the ideas of Karl Marx or Jacques Derrida or another from the host of contemporary thinkers. But literary or cultural criticism can derail a student’s chances to discover the author being analyzed, he writes, where she would learn “that there are other ways of looking at the world and other ways of being in the world than the ones she inherited from her family and culture.
”In other words, “The experience of change is at the heart of literary education,” he writes.
“Detached analysis has a place,” he writes in another essay, “but in the end you’ve got to speak from the heart and pose the questions of truth.”
Edmundson is not without hope, however critical he is of today’s culture.
He still believes students and professors can make the most of college life, to “liberate themselves and others into the fields of joy and salutary change that the liberal arts at their best provide,” he writes.