Content Versus Method Essay

1079 words - 5 pages

Content Versus Method
In “Conspiracy Theories 101” by Stanley Fish, he writes about the meaning of academic freedom and applies it to the topic of professor Kevin Barrett's lecture of a conspiracy theory, taken place at University of Wisconsin at Madison. Fish explains that Barrett should have the academic freedom to teach his lecture on conspiracy theories about 9/11 as long as the topic is brought up for “academic interrogation and analysis.” Fish also demonstrates a distinction of being academically responsible and irresponsible. Discussed is also the study of a subject such as astrology and how as long as a subjects “structure, history, influence, and so forth” is brought up in the ...view middle of the document...

Even a subject such as cocaine can be studied in an academic setting according to Fish's definition of academic freedom.
If a professor wanted to lecture or even teach a complete class on cocaine, he could following the structure of academic freedom that Fish discusses. The subject of cocaine's actual and factual history, chemical structure, effects, and even opinions of users and non-users can be brought to the class discussion. If these things are taught carefully with no push, or agenda to get the students to be advocates or against cocaine; then the teacher will have accurately taught about cocaine according to Fish's definition.
If Patrick Farrel or Barrett's critics were to apply academic freedom to the study of cocaine, the outcome of the class would be different. Barrett's critics would probably argue that cocaine should not even be an academic subject, lecture, topic, or class, because “academic freedom has limits.” Farrell, would most likely want to be reassured that more than just 1 view point are brought up in the content of the class. Both of these definition differ from Fish's take on academic freedom as he mentions the importance of analysis of the topic rather than points of view as he mentions in paragraph 13, “The true statement is that no matter how many (or few) views are presented to the students, they should be offered as objects of analysis rather than as candidates for allegiance.”
Fish's definition of academic freedom can also be applied to a subject such as astrology. Astrology is usually a topic thought of having to do more with your daily horoscope on facebook rather than being an academic subject, which would again most likely not be considered a real academic topic by some. But, when applying Fish's definition you could lecture this topic or teach a class on many famous opinions on the subject, such as mentioned in paragraph 8 about Nancy Regan or Shakespeare. As long the teacher of the class does not have a hidden agenda to convert the students into the belief of or complete abandonment of the idea, then the subject would be in line of Academic Freedom. Things like the...

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