My session went 90 minutes over the allotted time. I’m over the moon, folks. My faith in the future of academia is beginning to get restored. Although it’s not likely to happen in North America.
I was invited to this session in the capacity of what in my country we call “a wedding general.” In the nineteenth century, retired generals supplemented their income by making paid appearances at weddings. A general would sit at the top of the table in his uniform and regalia, boosting the prestige of the family and making the guests think that he’s related to the bride or the groom. In a similar way, the speakers of the session asked me to sit there and puff up my cheeks (which was the main job requirement for the original wedding general) and look important.
It turned out to be a great session. These are young (meaning about 10 years younger than me) Spanish academics. They are very done with wokeness, identity sloganeering, pileups on imaginary fascists, globalization, and the digital oligarchy. They want to read Zygmunt Bauman and teach Great Books. In the 3 hours that the session + additional discussion lasted, the only person who mentioned “inclusion” was me and that was only to mock it.
The best part was that we had a completely normal, completely unconstrained discussion about literature. There was complete freedom to say whatever one wanted. No woke comissars, no obligatory disawovals of “systemic injustices.” We spoke like normal people. And I think the audience liked it because many of the listeners stayed on debating all through the lunch hour, even though academics aren’t normally open to the disruptions in their food intake.
I’m so happy I could cry.