Monday, 22 September 2008

A pox on George and a double pox on Armstrong

This is a small screengrab from a letter from Graham Nerlich to Keith Campbell, who was acting as Head of the Philosophy department at Sydney University in 1973 while Nerlich was away - and while half the Department went on strike over the Feminism course. This particular letter is Nerlich's vote on whether the core curriculum should be abolished in favour of students choosing from a range of options. This had been suggested by George Molnar and naturally opposed by Armstrong, leading Nerlich to say "A pox on George and a double pox on Armstrong!!" 
This is interesting for me as it enacts the two important perspectives on knowledge that determined the conflict over who should own it. One is that a core of knowledge is foundational to all new knowledge and discovery is bent on enriching it - requiring academic Masters to protect and impart it. The other that all knowledge is contingent, ideological and political and new knowledge will be produced by those who can depart from it on the basis of individual inquiry and personal discovery. 

Nerlich, Graham. "Letter from Nerlich to Keith Campbell 12/3/1973." In John Burnheim Papers. Sydney: In the possession of Alison Bashford, 1973 (I also have digitised copies)

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