Rhetorical constructions of civility in higher education : analyzing Salaita and Curry.


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Higher education has seen an increase in pleas for civility. These calls have been in response to alleged instances of “incivility” demonstrated by their faculty members and students. Civility is understood as a requirement for civil dialogue and democratic deliberation. This expectation is not neutral, but ideological and therefore racialized. As a result, ideology determines what rhetoric is constituted as civil or uncivil. This thesis examines two main controversies: Dr. Steven Salaita and the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and Dr. Tommy Curry and Texas A&M University. The invocation and regulation of civility in higher education functions as a mode of citizenship for academic institutions that demarcates the “civil” scholar from the “uncivil” scholar. Particularly in the case of Dr. Salaita, donor influence has expanded and influences the dominant ideology. This corporatization of education has dangerous implication for the future of academic freedom and dissent.



Civility. Higher education. Salaita. Curry.