Confronting the Fear of Knowledge


On this edition author, academic and journalist Joanna Williams joins James from the UK to discuss her new work, Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity: Confronting the Fear of Knowledge (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).  The volume provides a carefully researched historical examination of the highly politicized anti-free speech movements that have developed at university campuses on both sides of the Atlantic.

Joanna Williams is thjwe education editor of Spiked Online and was recently profiled in the Times Higher EducationShe began her career teaching English in secondary schools and Further Education. For close to a decade she was a lecturer in Higher Education and Academic Practice at the University of Kent. Joanna is also the author of Consuming Higher Education Why Learning Can’t Be Bought (Bloomsbury, 2012).

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Joanna has written numerous academic journal articles and book chapters and is a frequent contributor to national and international education debates. Her writing has been published everywhere from Times Higher Education to Early Years Educator; from the Telegraph to the Erotic Review. Joanna also writes and speaks about a range of other issues including schools, gender, feminism, children and families.

Additional information is available at @jowilliams293 and JoannaWilliams.org.

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9 thoughts on “Confronting the Fear of Knowledge”

  1. Reblogged this on deinvestiture and commented:

    Note: “feminism” like so many other “isms” was created, funded, cultivated, and maintained by certain intelligence agencies as one “nail in the gun”, the sole purpose of which was to assist in the degradation and destruction of culture and society and, “the gun”, more broadly and in a phrase, is accurately termed “weaponized anthropology” and rudimentarily understood as the mechanism or tool by which so many nails are fired in different directions to achieve the stated nefarious outcomes.

    1. Disagree, Angelo. Feminism was and still is necessary. Women are not treated equally, and one can begin with Academia, where women profs are promoted far less, scrutinzed far more and fear their student evaluations because even the female students seem to hate their female profs more.

      That said, true feminism should be the basics: Equality. Not the myriad of other issues co-opted and now believed by younger women to be “feminism”, such as abortion as means of birth control…

      1. I as a student, never turned them in. Unless they cornered me. As a teacher, from my college experience, it was quite clear to me that unless you were married/ or about to marry to a male who was a teacher there already. OR most specifically; if your teaching was critical of the world we live in, you were doomed. That silly student remarks after a horrifying [irrelevant test usually] wouldn’t matter, however much they may have wanted to scare you with that… It was always clear to me if you were a a thoughtful and serious person, especially if attractive in any way, and not married or a mistress to one of them, you were F-…… (This is a more honest evaluation of what goes on, Angelo may be referring to Steinem as CIA asset, which he probably has not the wisdom to comment upon.)

  2. Yes, well. I decided not comment on the guy who tried to argue that rape is imagined, … She is more dangerous than he is. One issue is most Europeans have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a John Wayne, cut-throat, every man for himself, nation-state. But they ought to know statistics. And if stats have gone down concerning violence against women, it would be to do with the fact women aren’t marrying anymore or even dating; in spite of what you see in advertisements. My god, most women don’t even bother reporting sexual assault due to the fact cops blame you. This horrible woman sounds like Paglia — if you’re skirt is too short you asked for it!! The true historical of socialism has nothing to due with identity politics. Feminism means simply: we’re all equal humans. Right-wing feminism is the problem, and if she wants “knowledge” restored where was her critique of capitalism?? Duh. And also, Jim, you have a very distorted view on Marx being rampantly taught in colleges and so on, without going into the facts surrounding that misnomer, just stating the obvious makes the point: would we really be living in perpetual warfare on fictional enemies, IF IT WERE being taught??

    1. Stephanie, great photograph that you’ve chosen. It suggests that you admire the persona of a calm, cultured and truthful woman. You describe Joanna Williams as “dangerous” and “sounding like Paglia.” Aren’t you confirming her point that there is today an unwillingness to consider or discuss opposing ideas? Describing someone as “dangerous” for having an idea different than your own is merely an ad hominem attack. If you wish to rationally oppose an idea she’s expressed you need to accurately quote it and then indicate why you feel it’s inaccurate or incomplete, or whatever.

      You say “most Europeans have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a John Wayne, cut-throat, every man for himself, nation-state.” I guess you’ve never seen a John Wayne movie; all his roles were of characters who showed great chivalry and protectiveness of others– especially towards women and towards brash young men. The men he played in the movies made allowances for drunkenness or anger or misunderstanding. So that leaves “cut-throat, every man for himself, nation-state.” I am an American, and I truly don’t know what your excited word choice refers to. I am critical of the power structure which has usurped the rights and decisions of ordinary people, but I have no complaint of ordinary people except that they lack rigor in their thinking & that the degradation of our educational system has a tendency to leave them either intellectually apathetic and empty-headed or passionately attached to propaganda which attachment they seem convinced is their very identity. You might read on what’s wrong w identity politics. It’s based on a kind of group-think which over-rides individual judgement.

      No one has said that women are not equal to men. You have imagined that strawman in order not to consider what she actually said.

      1. Not to be rude. But you missed several points, and your depiction of J.W. is absurd and misguided. I addressed the woman well enough. It was hardly an ad hom. I have spent two decades trying to “educate”. Or inform. You either understand this history of disinformation or you don’t, by now. Of yo half-way [A-ssed] do. And I assure you I DID NOT attack her, she nullified herself.

        1. Sorry, or you sorta do. But not really. I have to abbreviate curse words because apparently we still live in such a puritanical culture it “offends”.

        2. I disregarded your silly comment on “no one has said women are unequal to men.” Well, this is where Americans fail miserably which I think I put. If you do not perceive it, or “have heard of” the terror inflicted upon females, then you may live in a very sheltered place. It is so rampant and has been for a very long time. You “were drunk”, “you were asking for it”, “you dress wrongly”, please. If you meant her, her comments were superficial. They needed nothing other than a reality check. I personally distrust her motives. Which reminds me, I saw nothing of a comment on her lack of critique of capitalism. “Ad hom” to you. ….. Sad. (We are so f-ed in this land mass, people how absolutely no remaining instincts.) Oh and if you are pretentious and find Inessa Armand to be of a calm, no action person,…It just makes my point.)

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