Sunday, October 28, 2007

Oh heck, no one reads this anyway...

The October 24 2007 issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly reports that, at the dedication of Stanhope Hall as the new home of the Center for African American Studies, President Shirley Tilghman "noted that it is located 'at the heart' of the University both physically and intellectually." I like to think that if I were involved with the Center for African American Studies, I would be appalled by her sycophantic insincerity. Stanhope Hall is not at the physical heart of the University, except by virtue of its proximity to Nassau Hall, in which case it would be more accurate to say it is located "at the liver."

The intellectual point is even more outrageous, however much one values African American Studies. It is in the very nature of Programs, Studies, and Centers, as distinct from Departments, that they are interdisciplinary. For disciplines to interact, they must first exist. If only logic and rhetoric, or theology, or philosophy (beyond the rather esoteric brand that is favored there), were taught at Princeton, they might be at the intellectual heart of the university. As it is, I would argue that History, English, and Politics--the most populous arts departments--are the leading candidates.

While I'm crawling to the spindly end of this limb, I might observe that History and English, housed as they are near the library and connected to the chapel, or Politics, across the street from History and English and nestled near the eating clubs, provide serious candidates for the physical heart as well.

1 comment:

misswg said...

"At the liver." *snort* Hee!