Panel Preview 2: Teaching against Capitalist Miseducation: Radical Pedagogy and the Crisis of the Public Intellectual

With #MLA16 nearly a week away, the 2016 Subconference of the MLA is excited to continue spreading the word about this year’s surplus of engaging panels. The second panel of this year’s Subconference—“Teaching against Capitalist Miseducation: Radical Pedagogy and the Crisis of the Public Intellectual”—engages with the popular notion of the public intellectual. As a point of departure, in their abstract, the panel organizers engage with recent interventions by prominent scholars in PMLA:

“In the March 2015 edition of the PMLA, a number of well-known scholars address the crisis of the public intellectual in today’s age of mass multi-media and the fluctuating ground of academic freedom in the contemporary university, particularly in the wake of the Salaita case. As a means of consolidating their focus, the editors coin the term ‘semipublic intellectual’ in order ‘to encapsulate this particularly twenty-first century situation and give a name to an identifiable, if constantly shifting relation between the scholars and the academy,’ and as a means to engage with the loss of the ‘by-gone golden age of thought, expression, and influence’ that defined the role of the public intellectual in the pre-internet age.”

The roundtable panel will ground its discussion in the radical critique of this concept of ‘semipublic intellectual’ and its accommodation to the neoliberal hierarchies that are part and parcel of contemporary higher education. Some points of critique, as proposed by the roundtable panel, will include:

*Issues of pedagogy have been wiped clean from the PMLA dialogue
*The “semipublic intellectual” represents nothing more than an exercise in self-reflexive alienation and de-politicization

The roundtable panel will propose that radical pedagogy becomes the basis for thinking through active participation in the process of social change by locating the conditions for oppression in the everyday reality of what it calls capitalist miseducation.

With these points of critique in mind, the roundtable panel will then examine the interrelationship between radical pedagogy and the discursive practices of the public intellectual. Some questions the roundtable panel will address include:


*In a time of anti-intellectualism propagated by the political Right and the corporate media, does the category of the “semipublic intellectual” allow for the flexibility needed to mitigate the proliferation of an uninformed community upon which the dominant ethos of capitalist exploitation, imperialist war, and police militarization maintains its power?

*How can we understand the necessary bond between thought and action that enlists those of us dedicated to the process of radical pedagogy?

*What does it mean to do radical pedagogy in an era of corporatization of higher education, particularly for those of us determined by our contingent labor status?

*What does the Salaita case teach us about activism both on and off campus?

*How can radical educators mediate between public discourses and pedagogical praxis in order to synthesize revolutionary commonalties against the neoliberal onslaught both inside and outside the classroom walls?

Come prepared to discuss what it means to be a public intellectual in relationship to the classroom over free coffee and snacks with your fellow Subconistas.

Panel: “Teaching against Capitalist Miseducation: Radical Pedagogy and the Crisis of the Public Intellectual”
Roundtable Panelists:
John Maerhofer, City University of New York
Margaret Hanzimanolis, City College of San Francisco
Pat Keeton, Ramapo College
Amrita Ghosh, Seton Hall University
Rahul Gairola, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee
Date: Wednesday January 6, 2016
Time: 11:15 am – 12:45 pm
Place: Cheer Up Charlies