Mad hatters, jackbooted managers, and the massification of higher education
In this review of three recent books on higher education, Alexander Sidorkin shows how the disinterested discourse that appears to be anticapitalist and anticommercial is actually a way of obtaining income from state subsidies. What links the books under review—Cary Nelson's No University Is an Island: Saving Academic Freedom, Frank Donoghue's The Last Professors: The Corporate University and the Fate of the Humanities, and Jennifer Washburn's University, Inc.: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education—is their critical evaluation of the corporatization and commercialization of higher education. In his analysis of this common theme, Sidorkin considers discourse as a means of production, and he maintains that the semiotic fields produced by discourse may create inflationary bubbles unless they engage in innovative discursive practices. Higher education is shaped by the trend toward massification, which makes the innovative discourse essential. Sidorkin concludes that the discursive energy of proponents of higher education should be focused on solving the numerous problems that arise from the massification of higher education rather than trying to reverse the trend and return to some golden age of academia.