The real danger is that the departments of English are to become service departments, functioning in the name of commerce. Across the board, those subdisciplines which have moved in during literature’s waning hegemony (technical writing, cultural studies, composition/rhetoric, linguistics/TESOL) can all easily be articulated as pure service functions to the educational factory’s imperative to get people ready to work.
Creative writing’s sad responsibility in this eventuality then would be to administer the last rites of the imagination to children damaged beyond redemption on their way to the great maw of America, Inc.
– Curtis White, Monstrous Possibility (1998).
Cool, huh? On the one hand, one can’t deny that the attempts to commercialize the Humanities have done incalculable damage to the system of higher education. On the other hand, though, you can practically hear White gnashing his teeth at the idea that all those proles who see having a job as a sine qua non of their existence dare to invade his ivory tower. Unless you have a trust fund that makes work a choice rather than a necessity on a par with breathing, White has no use for you.
This quote brings to mind all of those folks in my grad school for rich kids who kept telling me that the need to graduate and find a job as soon as possible meant I could never be a real scholar. Precisely because I remember only too well the political allegiances of the people who claimed one couldn’t develop intellectually without a trip to Europe at least once a year, I was not at all surprised to discover that Curtis White is a Marxist. Nobody despises the working people quite as much as Marxists.