Years of Reading Dangerously

By: John Maerhofer  

Neoliberalism has devastated our ability to cultivate strategies for critical thought, particularly in the realm of public education which is constantly under attack by the political Right. As Henry Giroux notes, public education is the last bastion of resistance against the neoliberal assault: “Public schools and higher education are ‘dangerous’ because they hold the potential to serve as laboratories for democracy where students learn to think critically. Teachers are threatening because they refuse to conflate education with training or treat schools as if they were car dealerships.” Henry Giroux’s assertion that literacy and knowledge in the era of capitalist crisis has fostered “a new kind of infantilism and culture of ignorance... in which the only obligation is to live for one’s own self-interest and to reduce the responsibilities of citizenship to the demands of consumer culture” captures the state of higher educational institutions in the era of neoliberal maintenance. The strengthening of these attacks on both institutions and individuals who speak truth to power is not only a symptom of corporate consolidation of the knowledge/power nexus in higher education, but also can be understood within the context of emergent neo-fascism with its necessity to quell and eradicate forms of dissent that yield a systemic critique of state power. With this context in mind, my paper will analyze the state of knowledge-production while also suggesting ways of transforming and building literacies as part of the fightback against the rise of global neo-fascism, concentrating mostly on higher education in the United States.

Literacies, knowledge-prudiction, neoliberalism
Reading, Writing, Literacy, and Learning
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

John Maerhofer

Adjunct Professor , Writing Studies & Rhetoric, Hofstra University, United States
United States

Educator and activist living in NYC.