Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Critical Comeback

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Critical Comeback

Article excerpt

Having been away of late, I am only now able to respond to Simon Blackburn's review of my book Imagining the University ("Creative steps to po-po-mo heaven", 31 January).

First, the role of any reviewer is surely to provide a summary of the book's contents, but Blackburn doesn't really offer that. (A non-technical summary is set out in the book's introduction in the form of 15 theses.)

Second, Blackburn rather misconstrues the argument. The "orgy of adjectives" is not my own but is my identification of different terms depicting the university that are to be found in the literature and which I critique in the book.

Third, Blackburn informs readers that dislocations of grammatical categories are common in the book, "knowledge" being mainly used as an adjective while "imaginary" becomes a noun. The first example is mistaken; the second is curious, to say the least. Blackburn seems either not to know or to care that both Jean-Paul Sartre and Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor have used "imaginary" as a noun (and done so in the titles of books of theirs). In Imagining the University, I draw on their meanings of "imaginary", as well as making a distinction between it and "imagination". …

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