I believe that the two most diametrically opposed cultures in the United States are Jersey Shore and the University of Chicago. So that makes all the more bizarre to learn about a conference in Hyde Park on Friday analyzing the MTV reality show, Jersey Shore. The conference program reveals over-the-top (and I’m sure very much self-aware) MLA-type titles that go on forever, saying nothing comprehensible (which is perhaps an appropriate metaphor for Jersey Shore), such as this paper: “Situating the Situation: Psychogeography, Mimetic Desire, and the Resurgent Indo-European Trifunctional Paradigm in Seaside.” As for “Platonic Justice and the Jersey Shore,” I’m not sure if Socrates says much to enlighten us about idiots doing crap. But my favorite paper title is: “Foucault’s Going to the Jersey Shore, Bitch!” Yes, I’m sure this kind of fun little conference will encounter a lot of ridicule and rage. My question is whether an academic analysis of pure idiocy really tells us anything. Of course, as the author of a book about Rush Limbaugh, some people might say I’m engaged in a similar activity. You can register to attend this free conference and find out.
Some good news: in a new survey of teenagers by the Knight Foundation, the percentage of high school students who believe “the First Amendment goes too far” in protecting the rights of citizens has dropped to a quarter (24 percent) in 2011 from nearly half (45 percent) in 2006. The more alarming news comes from the survey of high school teachers: “Most teachers also do not support free expression for students. Only 35 percent, for example, agree that ‘high school students should be allowed to report controversial issues in their student newspapers without the approval of school authorities.’”
Chandler Davis was honored at the University of Michigan last week, 57 years after he was fired for his involvement in the Communist Party. Davis refused to testify on First Amendment grounds and was found guilty of contempt of Congress, eventually going to jail in 1960. What’s most interesting about this story is that English professor Alan Wald was given a named professorship and allowed to choose the person he wanted it named for, picking Davis. There’s a great idea: have professorships named for people who deserve it instead of people who purchase it.
Last week, the University of Illinois withdrew a proposed revision to email policies after the AAUP and FIRE sent a joint letter raising First Amendment concerns.
One of the great bookstores ever, the Seminary Co-op Bookstore near the University of Chicago, is turning 50 years old and planning a move out of its claustrophobic basement store.