Watched: Academic Freedom in the Age of Anti-Intellectualism

Stephany Rose's picture
Call for Publications
March 31, 2017
United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Digital Humanities, Intellectual History, Political History / Studies, Social Sciences

Given the most recent election cycle, the current socio-political climate reflects a growing reality of anti-intellectual sentiments across the United States. While the digital age has ushered in one of the greatest eras of access to information, unfortunately there does not seem to be a subsequent escalation in critically engaged thought across the U.S. populous. Critical thinking, critical media literacy and intellectualism in general appear to be declining in social value. In fact, recent studies indicate that the average person is far less likely to decipher between factual versus non-factual popular and social news and media. Additionally, even when fact checking occurs in real-time by accredited research clearinghouses, as during presidential and vice-presidential debates, masses are extremely likely to dismiss and defend non-reputable discourse as long as the talking figures remain likable, charismatic, and/or of high entertainment value.

As a result, popular ideas that often emerge from spaces of opinionated belief and expression are celebrated, circulated, and regurgitated at viral speeds versus sound evidence-based knowledge grounded in the rigor of academic thought and they currently compete for equal airtime in the academy under the guise of academic freedom. Furthermore, challenges to such demands by faculty and other intellectuals have in turn been branded as “ultra-liberal” and dismissed as gatekeeping to academic freedom. Subsequently, university programs/departments, as well as faculty members have been targeted for surveillance through watch lists and course infiltration by oppositional students, organizations and larger antagonizing communities in attempts to disrupt sacred traditions of academic freedom and intellectualism.

This call for multi-disciplinary papers, auto-ethnographic reflections, and interviews ask for submissions that challenge such assumptions and practices, as well as engage in strategies to address narratives and outcomes of academic freedom in these social-political times. Some topics to consider are, but are not limited to the following:

  • Defining academic freedom
  • Celebritism and the public intellectual
  • Free expression vs. Intellectualism (How and why all thoughts and opinions are not created equally What are the significant impacts for understanding the distinctions in the classroom and beyond?)
  • Surveillance and counter-surveillance in and beyond the academy
  • Watch lists and infiltrating the classroom
  • The right to record and who can/is recording who?
  • (The academy in the world of YikYak, Twitter, Instagram and beyond
  • Corporate interests and academic freedom
  • Mythologies of the academy as ultra-liberal
  • Denouncing academic rigor as liberal in the face of conservative ideologies
  • Strategies for raising critical consciousness in the academy and beyond
  • White grievances in the face of social justice activism 

This peer-reviewed edited volume seeks to be a toolkit for those in and beyond the academy who are committed to upholding the value of intellectualism even as systems, institutions, and communities work to undermine it. Please send abstracts for submissions to the collection's editor Dr. Stephany Rose at by March 31, 2017. Decisions for inclusion will be finalized by May 31, 2017 with requests for full manuscripts by July 31, 2017.  Abstracts should be 250-300 words. 

Contact Info: 
Stephany Rose, Ph. D.
Pronouns: She/Her/Herself
Associate Professor
Women's and Ethnic Studies
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Contact Email: