Expert Personae in the Humanities: Ideologies of Academic Performance in the Knowledge Economy

By Katherine Arens.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This essay takes up Deleuze and Guattari’s model of a conceptual persona from “What is Philosophy?” to address the “crisis in the humanities” by questioning what the humanities’ crisis might actually be. By tracking the epistemology of today’s humanities this way, we can differentiate the problems of agency, expertise and authority at the basis of today’s crisis rhetoric. The classic analysis of this crisis has addressed the relation of disciplines to social purposes, as canonicity and the “master narratives” of history have been questioned in their impact on those subjected to social ideologies at the cost of their identities, and sometimes even their livelihoods an arc of argument implicating texts from Lyotard’s “Postmodern Condition” (1979), Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” (1986 ff.) and Spivak’s “Outside in the Teaching Machine” (1993), to Cary Nelson’s “Will Teach for Food” (1997) and Chela Sandoval’s “Methodology of the Oppressed” (2000). An approach over Deleuze and Guattari suggests that the “crisis” of the humanities can as more than a crisis of authority: it is a more encompassing question of Western epistemology and its institutional and social anchors, directed not only at institutions, but at disciplinary practices themselves.

Keywords: Academic Expertise, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, Master Narratives, Ethics of Power, Humanities

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.141-148. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 515.352KB).

Dr. Katherine Arens

Professor, Profesor of Germanic Studies, Comparative Literature, and Science and Technology Studies, U of Texas at Austin, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

After a PhD in German Studies and Humanities from Stanford University, Arens has worked at the University of Texas at Austin in several disciplinary units, including comparative literature, women's and gender studies, science and technology studies, and German and European studies. Her work combines literary and intellectual history of Europe and the United States. Aside from 6 books on topics from 1750 through contemporary theory, her most recent book (with Janet Swaffar) is Remapping the Foreign Language Curriculum: An Approach through Multiple Literacies NY: MLA 2005).

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