Whackademia: An Insider’s Account of the Troubled University
by Richard Hil
NewSouth Publishing, $34.99 pb, 239 pp, 9781742232911
J.M. Coetzee’s novel Disgrace (1999) dramatises a cynical middle-aged professor of literature reduced to teaching communication skills at a university whose great rationalisation has turned scholars into mere clerks. Richard Hil, in his Whackademia: An Insider’s Account of the Troubled University, does what Coetzee’s jaded character could never do: write a socially responsible book about the robotic processes of over-administration that academics have come to endure. Hil describes a ‘turgid rationalist’ and ‘capitalist market’ system that has transformed universities from being centres of teaching and research into nightmare factories of marketing and bureaucracy.