"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Monday, January 05, 2004 A correspondent visits the MLA convention in search of pro-war dissent among the English professoriate, but finds few breaches in an ivory tower of Marxist literary theory that, post 9/11, is increasingly remote from the students it purports to instruct:
The closest public challenge to the prevailing geopolitical views at the MLA came when one professor asked a panel that had derided American responses to 9/11 and Iraq what a good response would have looked like. She didn't get much of an answer, left the session, and declined to elaborate on her question.
But a young professor of English who followed her out the door to congratulate her did offer some thoughts on politics at the MLA. Aaron Santesso of the University of Nevada at Reno described himself as being "on the left" and sympathetic with much of the criticism of the war in Iraq. But he said that the tenor of the discussion "drives me nuts." "A lot of people here don't want the rhetoric to just be a shrill echo of the right," he said.
Just a few years ago, he noted, the Taliban was regularly attacked at MLA meetings for their treatment of women and likened to the American religious right. Now, there is only talk of how the United States has taken away the rights of the Afghan people.
Santesso said he gains a good perspective from his students, most of whom he characterized as "libertarian conservatives." Most of the debate at the MLA, he said, "would completely alienate my students."
How many of the university English professors at the MLA could empathize with something like this? (Via Andrew Sullivan) Not many, I think.