Robert P. Marzec


By way of introduction to this third issue of Crossings and its special topic–"The State of the University"–I would like to speculate upon a seemingly insurmountable dilemma: What possibility is there for resistance with regard to research in the university today? The work of the university tends to be accomplished principally through teaching and research–with service, conference organizing, community interaction, and activism woven (if luck has it) around these two essentials in some form or another. Being in the university requires heavy engagement with at least one if not both of these central activities. Otherwise, one runs the risk of not making their "mark," and by extension of not getting hired and being granted tenure. In recent years, the deplorable status of the job market has resulted in an increase in the need to publish one’s research findings in order that this "mark" be made. This has in turn resulted in an increase in the number of scholarly books and journals being printed. University presses have, in the last thirty years, joined the ranks of other financeoriented publishing houses, concerning themselves first and foremost with what will sell. This institutes and sanctions trends that are hot, which in turn influences the kind of work graduate students will do while struggling to get their Ph.D.s.

Scholarly research has been taken over by this endoriented logic, made manifest in the goal of disciplinary advancement. And now, according to Joan Catapano, editor for Indiana University Press, the exigencies of racking up publications in order to get hired, in order to move on to a tenuretrack position, and in order to finally reach the goal of tenure, has resulted in a glut on the market. It appears that everyone everywhere in academia is publishing, and publishing at an increasing rate. Each month sees the appearance of a new journal, with pleading invitations for individual subscriptions bulleted with stellar reviews by celebrated academicians. More journals, however, does not mean more institutional interest in scholarly research. More often than not institution libraries will turn down the subscription of a new journal, basing this decision on the socalled "economic crisis" and a market that demands cutbacks wherever possible.

Research must now face fully the fact that it cannot deny being part and parcel of the market forces of late capitalism. As Don DeLillo remarked a few years back, nothing happens in today ’s world unless it is commodified. The publication of one’s research, therefore, also becomes the creation of an economic product for the advancement of capital, even if that publication seeks to radically critique the very economic system that enables the existence of that critique. This makes the work of the oppositional intellectual smack of a certain—and apparently unavoidable—hypocrisy. As Bill Readings has remarked, in the age of "excellence," when the university institution has become a technobureaucratic apparatus that seeks value in an everincreasing amount of accountable commodities, even the most radical posture can be taken as proof of the excellence of a university’s faculty, and of its student commitment. If we are to challenge in any fundamental way the movement of capital, and the factor of research becoming an agent of capital, we need to interrogate the very nature of research and oppositional critique as made available to us today.

. .

(This text is only a selection. For the complete essay please see our journal)