Books for the News, Education, Religion

Still provocative after all these years

taylor_photo.jpgThe Chronicle of Higher Education recently published a profile of one of the most consistently interesting academics today, Mark C. Taylor, chair of the religion department at Columbia University and a prolific author, having published tens of books and innumerable articles on topics from poststructuralism to the visual arts. Recently however Taylor’s copious oeuvre has been slightly overshadowed by his controversial critique of tenure and the structure of the academy, originally published in the New York Times, and the basis of his forthcoming book from Knopf, Crisis on Campus.
In the Chronicle article, “The Provocations of Mark Taylor”, Eric Banks revisits the furor created by the article’s radical recommendations for interdisciplinarity and the abolishing of “traditional disciplinary structures” but connects Taylor’s critique to his other work, including his recent book from Columbia University Press, Field Notes From Elsewhere, his 2004 Confidence Games: Money and Markets in a World Without Redemption, and his 2007 treatise on religion in contemporary culture After God.
Noting his concurrent efforts at reform in the religion department at Columbia, Banks article concludes:

“Whether his administration at Columbia, or for that matter his forthcoming Knopf title, will light a fire of reform, the experience is worth trying for Taylor. Consider it a continuing experiment born out of his own dissatisfaction: “I always say to my students, ‘You don’t desire satisfaction. Satisfaction is death. And there are a lot of living dead.'”

Also see all of Taylor’s books published by the University of Chicago Press.