Academia Under the Influence

By Eleanor J. Bader

Image: Minnesota Press

Image: Minnesota Press

While we may tend to romanticize universities as bastions of free thought and intellectual rigor, Piya Chatterjee and Sunaina Maira’s new book, The Imperial University: Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent, demonstrates their subjection to the same ideological underpinnings as the general body politic.

For the past 10 years, I’ve taught English at a large, public community college in Brooklyn, New York. Most of my students are the first in their families to attend a university – and while some are disaffected, the majority are engaged and eager, hopeful that the promise of a higher education will open doors and provide them with a stable future. They’re also largely immigrants, and it is not uncommon for 28 students from 20 countries to find themselves sitting side-by-side in a classroom, arguing and debating about the meaning of a particular text.

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