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Karin Roffman Organization Man in an Organizational World (on Christopher Newfield, Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University, 1880-1980 [Duke UP, 2003]) Christopher Newfield's Ivy and Industry tells the story of how the American middle class gained and then lost its investment in the values of the university. Underneath the book's straightforward tone lurks a strong voice that rises to the surface and complains, for instance, of "the apparent muteness of the humanities" (7), and the poor job humanists have been doing about incorporating new research on race, sexuality, colonialism, and multiculturalism into traditional English department curriculums. This story has two parts: it involves the increasing commercialization of the university during the period 1880-1980, and the simultaneous effort by the college-educated to do meaningful work in an autonomous environment. The two histories, one cultural and the other social and personal, intersect in surprising ways—and often to the detriment of both. Newfield critiques professional passivity and faculty members more concerned with losing personal privilege than expanding the possibilities forknowledge or thinking about the humanities. The history of the commercialization of the university is not new. What separates Newfield's from other recent accounts such as James Duderstadt's A Universityfor the 2V Century (2000), Stanley Aronowitz's The Knowledge Factory: Dismantling the Corporate University and Creating True Higher Learning (2001), Eric Gould's The University in a Corporate Culture (2003), Derek Bok's Universities in the Marketplace: The Commercialization of Higher Education (2003), or the collection Steal this University: The Rise ofCorporate University and the Academic LaborMovement (2003), editedby BenjaminJohnson, Patrick Kavanagh and Kevin Mattson, is its particular concern with the role of the middle class. The middle class exploits and sells out, often inadvertently, its ideals of the university. Newfield defines the middle-class as a group of people who have "a plausible expectation of real autonomy in the performance of work" (U). Taking up an argument that he makes in the introduction to the collection After Political Correctness: The Humanities and Society in the 1990s (1995) which he edited with Ronald Strickland, Newfield argues that the humanities have lost ground because the professional- and managerial class (PMC) that make up the faculties of universities is ideologically divided. The PMC's notion of work has been absorbed through the ideals of the university, but modified through the experience of working in an organizational world. PMC's are increasingly willing to sacrifice humanistic theories of the necessity for free agency for the entire working order to ensure autonomous work environments for privileged members within the 270 the minnesota review university. More than the overpowering presence of the market, the PMC's growing awareness of a hierarchical working system and of ideological positions at odds with actual work experience is dividing the group. Newfield believes this trade-off will be ultimately unacceptable for both the university and the middle class. The ideals of the university are part ofeach member's selfdefinition. One of these ideals is that all people deserve autonomy in their work. The future only holds promise if "we can figure out how to achieve free agency for an entire society within the complex organizations through which we do our work" (14). Newfield's specific question is "how literary academia might get its freedom narratives back" (11) to help achieve this. It is an idealistic notion to connect literary academia to "free agency for an entire society," but Newfield's account is far less cringe-inducing than almost any other because of its focus and feeling. His entire volume holds that the first and most obvious loser of free agency is literary academicians in the managerial , hierarchical workplace of the past fifty years. The gains of some members of the workforce cannot offset the huge losses of freedom to all but the most privileged of the profession. Many members can no longer tolerate working in it because it violates their notions of individual agency at work. Particularly since 1980, Newfield shows that these freedom narratives have become more important to corporate life in some ways than to the humanities disciplines from which they arise. From the founding of the Johns...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 269-274
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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