Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fall of academic fads

Just a quick link to an interesting post over at Gene Expression.  The main idea is recent academic world views have fallen out of favor.  

Fourth, the sudden decline of all the big-shot theories you'd study in a literary theory or critical theory class is certainly behind the recent angst of arts and humanities grad students. Without a big theory, you can't pretend you have specialized training and shouldn't be treated as such -- high school English teachers may be fine with that, but if you're in grad school, that's admitting you failed as an academic. You want a good reputation. Isn't it strange, though, that no replacement theories have filled the void? That's because everyone now understands that the whole thing was a big joke, and aren't going to be suckered again anytime soon. Now the generalizing and biological approaches to the humanities and social sciences are dominant
This leaves one wondering what approaches are emerging as useful?  In the social sciences I agree with the post and expect to see a big rise in partially written slate theories (some biologically determined fitness landscapes). I have a feeling this approach will be hard on many extreme relativists.  It requires comfort with ambiguity mingled with a history of hard science. 

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