OK, not really. As much as I wish he were my BFF, Bill Deresiewicz, author of A Jane Austen Education and the just-releasing-right-now (and hotly controversial) Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful LIfe, is not exactly my pal per se (YET), but he did humor me with a long and wide-ranging interview recently, some of which made it into my latest article for Slate.
For those of you who read the excerpt in the New Republic and have your drawers in a bunch about it, I’d highly recommend taking a look at the whole book in context, because a lot of the BUT BUT BUT BUT BUTs I had are actually addressed in it quite thoroughly and fervently. There really isn’t an aspect of higher ed that Deresiewicz hasn’t thought through really well, and although his critique focuses much of the time on elite institutions like the ones that shaped him (and the one where he taught), much of it applies to the decline and fall of American higher education across the board. (And yes, he gives a VERY long shout-out to all of us adjuncts out there, in case you are wondering).
At any rate, when I talked to him I found him exceedingly thoughtful and genial, and I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.