In Areopagitica, that touchstone of literary and civil liberty for the modern Anglophone world, the revolutionary and teacher John Milton observes that “God sure esteems the growth and completing of one virtuous person more than the restraint of ten vicious” (modernized quotation from the original reproduced at http://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/areopagitica/index.shtml). For late and perhaps decadent modernity, such an observation is either impertinent – there is no such creature esteeming – or it is interpreted to mean that “God” is a foundational standard upon which an elaborate, insistent, powerful and ever growing bureaucracy is built. Franz Kafka had some sense of the latter, and David Foster Wallace provides an even greater sense. As a foundation of late modern bureaucracy, this construction of the Miltonic God tropes or transforms more than just “God,” as it makes constraint the chief virtue of persons, so that the God / bureaucracy esteems / approves the person who always already constrains herself much more than the ten women, or men, the bureaucracy finds that it must constrain. Jeremy Bentham and then Michel Foucault have described the social and cultural phenomena as they developed over centuries, and this volume of UNIversitas participates in some various contemporary phenomena shaped by and effecting the movement of these foundational values, sometimes with a longing for values more aligned with Milton’s, sometimes showing how the values are perverted by late modern bureaucrats, sometimes suggesting ways out of contemporary discipline by means of a transformed use of some of the technical mechanisms of constraint.
Most expansively, the Forum for this volume of UNIversitas often aligns itself with the liberal values of Milton and the American academe, while also exposing and critiquing the perversion of the American academe effected by an administration that forms itself more as a bureaucracy than as a set of philosopher-administrators temporarily sacrificing their time as professors in the service of academe. Organized by Dan Power, Professor of Management and President of United Faculty, the Forum brings to bear historical and national movements and highlights some most knowledgeable and engaged views specifically about UNI, notably from the current Chair of the Faculty and the current Vice Chair of the Faculty.
Most disturbingly, the perversion of late modern and bureaucratic habits of calculation and execution are revealed in the means of defense certain women leaders of the Rwandan genocide pursued. Donna Maier, in her masterful article that humanely brings to bear modern and rational methods of documentation and review, details the activities of several women who conceived and executed, sometimes personally, a wide range of the atrocities of late twentieth-century Rwanda.
Usefully, and sometimes even joyously, our other features show various means and ways out of late modern burdens and assaults. In Reviews and Responses, we have a very useful review of new library resources for graduate-level research. In Essays, Studies, and Works, we have an up-to-date treatment of the developing phenomenon of the Massive Open Online Course or MOOC, and an extremely valuable guide to queer literature for children of an advanced, perhaps postmodern world. Both the treatment of MOOCs and the guide are collaborative products. And joyously, we have a brilliant digital poem.
However unconstrained and then virtuous one or more of the contributions to UNIversitas makes you, we join you in exclaiming with Milton, again from Areopagitica, “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”
Professor and Editor