The Quotable Morse Peckham
On Literature, Life, and Beyond

Topic

"The corporations of this country own the universities, and ... the universities are primarily instruments of the corporations. ... By 'own' I mean that the universities exist primarily to provide the corporations with replacement parts for worn-out or otherwise discarded personnel and with additional parts for expansion."
["The Corporation's Role in Today's Crisis of Cultural Incoherence" (1971) in Romanticism and Behavior: Collected Essays II (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1976), 266.]

"The simple fact seems to be that the enormous expansion of universities in the past couple of decades has been financially possible only because it costs half as much to put a graduate student in the classroom as it does to put a full-time teacher paid at the bottom of the scale. Moreover, graduate students have not only paid with years of productive life for that expansion; they have also paid in the deterioration of their graduate study, and all their students will pay for it, and are paying for it."
["A Doctor of Philosophy in the Humanities?" South Atlantic Bulletin 40/1 (1975): 30]

"My attitude was and is that the first ten years after your Ph.D. are the most important years of your life, for in those years you have the chance to learn something because you want to know it, not because some son-of-a-bitch tells you you've got to know it."
["A Doctor of Philosophy in the Humanities?" South Atlantic Bulletin 40/1 (1975): 31]

"If something can be done of significance in interdisciplinary study, it can be done only at the colleges. In the universities, even minor-league universities, the academic Mafia is too powerful."
["A Doctor of Philosophy in the Humanities?" South Atlantic Bulletin 40/1 (1975): 31]

"In the universities, if a young man devotes himself wholeheartedly to an interdisciplinary course he is not rewarded, but punished, especially if he does not have tenure."
["A Doctor of Philosophy in the Humanities?" South Atlantic Bulletin 40/1 (1975): 35]

"What have universities traditionally existed for? The answer is clear and obvious. They have existed to provide a trained bureaucracy for the major institutions of their societies."
["A Doctor of Philosophy in the Humanities?" South Atlantic Bulletin 40/1 (1975): 37]

"The last fifteen years have seen a gradual reduction or even elimination of devices for removing a student from college before graduation. It has begun to appear that the higher educational establishment has ceased to be a sifting institution, but has become a custodial institution, a place where, as Matthew Arnold so pungently put it, the young barbarians are all at play."
["A Doctor of Philosophy in the Humanities?" South Atlantic Bulletin 40/1 (1975): 41]

"Graduate students, wherever I have attended graduate school since the War or have taught, tend to be a very unhappy group of people."
["A Doctor of Philosophy in the Humanities?" South Atlantic Bulletin 40/1 (1975): 44]