Dissertation writing scene



This is the roof of the library where I’m writing a first draft of the introduction to my dissertation. The sunshine is always encouraging.

In writing the introduction, I’m trying to remember what I find or have found inspiring about my research site. At one point they wrote this:

L’université est riche des espaces et des expériences d’émancipation. Comme telle, elle est publique.

The university is rich in spaces and experiences of emancipation. As such, it is public.

In an era where higher education in the United States is largely dominated by economistic impulses and further dominated by the husks of an unrealizable humanistic project that generally aims to produce at best more “cultivated” or “critical” liberal subjects, it’s a bit jarring to be exposed to this blunt piece of French left universalism: the university is emancipatory and emancipation must be available to all. That’s a thought that just wouldn’t be thinkable in most American contexts I’ve encountered. (To be fair, this is a fringe view in the French case too.)