Cover image for Academic keywords : a devil's dictionary for higher education
Academic keywords : a devil's dictionary for higher education
Nelson, Cary.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Routledge, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiii, 336 pages ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1360 Lexile.
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
LB2324 .N45 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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Know what academic freedomis? Or what it's come to mean? What's affirmative about affirmativeaction these days? Think you're up on the problem of sexual harassmenton campus? Or know how much the university depends on part-time faculty?

Academic Keywordsis a witty, informed, and sometimes merciless assessment of today's campus, an increasingly corporatized institution that may have bitten off more than its administration is ready to chew. Cary Nelson and Steve Watt use the format of a dictionary to present stories and reflections on some of the most pressing issues affecting higher education in America. From the haphazard treatment of graduate students to the use and abuse of faculty (as well as abuses commited by faculty), Nelson and Watt present a compelling and, at times, enraging report on the state of the campus.

Author Notes

of the landmark reader, Cultural Studies,(1992) as well as Higher Education Under Fire(1994) and Disciplinarityand Dissent in Cultural Studies(1996), all published by Routledge. Stephen Wattis Professor of English and Cultural Studies at Indiana University.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

How would you define academic freedom? Do you know the true meaning of faculty or sexual harassment? These are three of 47 words and phrases explained in this unusual work. Nelson (English, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Manifesto of a Tenured Radical, New York Univ., 1997) and Watt (English and cultural studies, Indiana Univ.) have composed a dictionary they describe as a cross between Ambrose Bierces 1911 The Devils Dictionary and Raymond Williamss Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society (1976). Like its predecessors, Nelson and Watts work incorporates (sometimes irreverent) definitions of words and phrases of importance to the academic world to help both academics and the public better understand education today. The definitions range from a few sentences to miniessays several pages long. Some entries include See also references to other definitions. The authors feel that higher education is in serious trouble, and their book works successfully as a consciousness-raising vehicle. We make no apology for and offer no retreat from the very bleak, even apocalyptic, portrait we paint of higher educations prospects, they write in their preface. Recommended for academic libraries.Terry A. Christner, Hutchinson P.L., KS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Nelson and Watts criticize the "creeping corporatization of the academy." This dictionary of almost 50 entries decries the staffing of a majority of undergraduate courses by adjuncts and teaching fellows, the glorification of "superstars" at the expense of most other academics, "administrative perks," and universities' economic inequalities. The conservative National Association of Scholars is described critically by one author who spoke at its 1997 convention as a "token lefty," and the American Association of University Professors and The Modern Language Association also receive entries. The book has a strong humanities bias emphasizing teaching English; science research is described as "work to cure cancer, " and rich, Ivy League universities are discussed under "Robber Baron Universities." Much of the text consists of personal anecdotes: "Sexual Harassment" contains half a dozen egregious, mishandled cases in which faculty were charged inappropriately or not pursued sufficiently; "The Teamsters Union" entry includes one page of "practical" advice--to engage a trade union in support of any faculty strike--followed by four pages describing one author's unsuccessful organizing efforts 30 years ago. University libraries on tight budgets will probably wish to avoid the expense of acquiring this lightweight contribution to the literature. Graduate students and faculty. G. E. Hein Lesley College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Introductionp. 1
Academic Keywordsp. 15

p. 17


p. 77


p. 99


p. 128


p. 132


p. 153


p. 157


p. 160


p. 162


p. 182


p. 193


p. 197


p. 219


p. 226


p. 281


p. 306

Notesp. 309
Bibliographyp. 319
Indexp. 329