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Retooling the Humanities

The Culture of Research in Canadian Universities

Daniel Coleman, Smaro Kamboureli

Published: August 2011
ISBN: 9780888645418
Pages: 336 Size: 9x6

Is market-driven research healthy? Responding to the language of "knowledge mobilization" that percolates through Canadian postsecondary education, the literary scholars who contributed these essays address the challenges that an intensified culture of research capitalism brings to the humanities in particular. Stakeholders in Canada's research infrastructure—university students, professors, and administrators; grant policy makers and bureaucrats; and the public who are the ultimate inheritors of such knowledge—are urged to examine a range of perspectives on the increasingly entrepreneurial university environment and its growing corporate culture.

Daniel Coleman is Professor of Canadian Literature, Department of English and Cultural Studies, McMaster University. He lives in Hamilton. Smaro Kamboureli is Professor with the School of English and Theatre Studies, Canada Research Chair, and Director of TransCanada Institute, University of Guelph. Her award-winning work, Scandalous Bodies: Diasporic Literature in English Canada, was republished in 2009. She lives in Toronto.

Coleman's and Kamboureli's introduction gives a genealogy of changes in the university over the past century, stressing in particular the transformation of the implicit social contract that binds it to the nation-state and to other communities.... [T]he fact that the collection left this particular reader wanting more is surely a good thing: books like this encourage not simply passive consumption, but active participation, a making of new connections, and a renewed awareness of the problematics and possibilities in readers' own everyday academic practices of life.

– Philip Holden, Chimo

Scholars of literature and other humanities from a number of Canadian universities explore how their professions are being impacted by the increasing pressure to attract external research funding from governments or corporations, and to produce knowledge that is directly applicable to the needs and priorities of the community at large - as identified chiefly by those very private and government funders. Chemists can make poison and biologists can make monsters, they say, but what does a poet have to sell? Their topics include taking it personally and politically, culture and knowledge as market commodities in humanities research, employing equity in post-secondary art institutes, re-imagining Roy Kiyooka's academic subjectivities, and whether the humanities need a new humanism.

– Book News Inc.

[T]his collection will be of great interest to the academic community generally, especially to humanities scholars and indeed to all who believe that there are more ends to academic research, teaching and learning than the perpetuation of capitalism.

– Michael Cottrell, Topia

We've heard much about the modern corporate university....at stake are issues that extend beyond the quality of degrees to no less than intellectual freedom and the social valuation (and very definition) of knowledge itself. Enter Retooling the Humanities, in which 13 literary scholars reflect the 'the culture of research capitalism' currently directing the profession and study of the humanities.... As several contributors emphasize, basic science and any curiosity-driven field where knowledge can't be readily patented are at risk. But humanist research faces particular challenges. To this end, the book sets out not only to offer a critical analysis of the situation, 'but to explore the possibilities for re-tooling the humanities.... Retooling [the Humanities] seems geared to academics, administrators and policymakers...such in-house discussion is badly needed.

– Christine Wiesenthal, Alberta Views

Profit is a fine motivator, but it should never be the only motivator. Retooling the Humanities: The Culture of Research in Canadian Universities looks at what is propelling researches in Canadian universities today, hoping to bring Canada into the debate on the purpose of secondary education and its institution. An assortment of essays for those who want to see a better tomorrow for Canada's colleges and universities. Discussing everything ranging from bureaucracy to public relations and much more, "Retooling the Humanities" is a scholarly discussion on the future of Canada's research and education.

– Library Bookwatch