Why Colonel Sartoris?

Allow me to explain the puzzling title. Colonel Sartoris is William Faulkner's greatest character. He exemplifies those values that his society cherishes, namely tradition, patriarchy, courtliness, and courage. Though modernity's slow march tries to strip him of these things, Sartoris continues to live as he always has, knowing that "the past is never dead. It's not even past." He seeks order in the honorable folkways and mores of his forbears. Let us not forget his example.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Academy's Failings

So here it is -- I'm sitting here, reviewing a morass of class notes, reading notes, treatises, and the work of prior students, and, after three weeks of studying for my First Amendment exam, I have realized that, by far, the MOST USELESS part of my preparation has been my review of class notes. My professor is admired in his field, but he is an awful teacher. Yet he will always have tenure. And Carolina would be "stupid," as adjudged by the Academy, to let him go.

Now, this may seem paradoxical: how can a bad teacher be valued so highly? Isn't the point of a faculty to teach its students? On some level, yes. But probably the least important criterion of being a faculty member. The most important criterion in valuing a faculty member is his respect among his peers. This respect does not come from his ability to teach his students, but from his ability to generate ideas.

Universities no longer exist for their students: they exist for their faculty to generate ideas. And THAT is what is wrong with the Academy.

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