(Not so) excellent sheep? Was wir aus der Kritik eines Literaturwissenschaftlers (William Deresiewicz) an US-Elite-Universitäten lernen könnten
This essay reads William Deresiewicz’s influential critique on current tendencies in US-American higher education at Ivy-League colleges and universities (Excellent Sheep, published in 2014) in comparison with the situation German universities are facing nowadays in the context of academic reforms. The focus is on the Humanities and especially Literary Studies with their potential to educate young people – not only to make them competent for getting a well-paid job, but also to foster critical thoughts, an open mind and allowing them to take decisions for themselves on what to do with their life. Since Deresiewicz presents Literary Studies as one of the best instruments to achieve these goals according to the all-American idea of a Pursuit of Happiness, based on key-concepts of the Enlightenment, this essay asks potentially uncomfortable questions about how do to this in our own day-to-day practice as professors doing their job at German universities with their own problems – some of them obviously shared with the Ivy League, others stemming from particular situations we have to cope with.