restricted access Curriculum Battleground
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ELT 37:4 1994 a writer mirroring a time and never professed to have a crystal ball. Conrad, like Kipling and Forster, wanted to sell books not forecast the future. Taking them to task as closet imperialists for not realizing over eighty years ago what would come to pass in the last quarter of the twentieth century, in spite of what twentieth-century readers have to gain intellectually from the experience, reminds me of the fate of Carlyle, wrenched out of context in the name of political expediency during the rise of fascism in the 1930s. We may learn from the experience , but I wonder if the exercise is fair. The strength of Said's book for me is less in what he says about how writers perceived their world than it is in what he says about the way those perceptions have shaped a conception of literary history. As he argues, indigenous histories of Third World, colonial cultures have been marginalized in academic studies as irrelevant, even eccentric, to the activities of the "great tradition," which is essentially a Eurocentric Western tradition. Thus, he adds, "the tendency in anthropology, history and cultural studies in Europe and the United States is to treat the whole of world history as viewable by a kind of Western super-subject, whose historicizing... either takes away or, in the post-colonial period, restores history to people and cultures 'without history.'" Since imperialism co-opts indigenous cultures, colonial cultures, as in the case of Yeats and the 1890s Celtic Revival, are recoverable at first only through the imagination (romantic mythmaking). The point speaks directly to the need to begin to understand not only "other" cultures and histories but also, and more importantly, how our own conception of history, especially literary history, has been formed. In spite of a certain political lopsidedness, Culture and Imperialism addresses the problem with a passion and a degree of learning that is guaranteed to send you back to the texts you once thought you understood fairly well. Franklin E. Court Northern Illinois University Curriculum Battleground W. B. Camochan. The Battleground of the Curriculum: Liberal Education and American Experience. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993. xii + 174 pp. $24.95 IT WOULD PROBABLY be unfair to say that W. B. Carnochan's The Battleground of the Curriculum might conceivably have ended after its introductory epigraph from Thorstein Veblen's The Higher Learning 548 BOOK REVIEWS in America. Speaking of the university as "the corporate organ of the community's dominant intellectual interest," Veblen remarks that "an institution is, after all, a prevalent habit of thought, and as such is subject to the conditions and limitations that surround any change in the habitual frame of mind prevalent in the community." The ensuing 125 pages of text, however, whose aim was to amplify, update, and flesh out this observation, seem to go on without adding a great deal to what Veblen has already said. Though genial and well-informed, Camochan has not managed to exert an authorial presence sufficiently strong to control and throw into relief his book's principal themes. With a structure and development as well as a characteristic style of sentence all rather oblique in tenor, this monograph seems gradually to fizzle out rather than to consolidate its parts into a whole that exceeds them. Much of what Camochan has to tell us has already become, albeit without these particular concrete details, a currently operating set of truisms: that there was no golden age when all was right with education; that there was never a real American consensus, either ethical or pedagogical; that there were always warring factions with political agendas rather than messages from God; that liberal education was never disinterested, and so on. The contemporary model for this genre seems to be Gerald Graffs Professing Literature, which traces the development of English studies from the late nineteenth century to the present and whose motto could very well have been The more things change, the more they remain the same." In place of Graffs delineation of the contest between philology and hermeneutics we find here a struggle characterized by Charles William Eliot's introduction of the free elective system at...


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