Caveat lector: thin-skinned college and university instructors of literature may have trouble getting past the first few pages of Michael Clune’s A Defense of Judgment, where accusations of professional “hypocrisy” and “disabling” (3) pedagogy spring from one corner while fulminations against the humanities’ self-inflicted political “losses” brew in another. But readers do well to toughen up and soldier on, for Clune develops an acute, deeply informed, and wide-ranging challenge to current professional orthodoxies. Bristling with specificity, his arguments offer much to reflect on and debate. And, luckily, caustic admonishment isn’t Clune’s sole or even most persistent hortatory strategy. On a crusade to advance the tradition of aesthetic education, so as “to push the project of human liberation beyond the boundaries of the [capitalist] market” (37), Clune attempts to win converts alternately by scolding, refuting, galvanizing, inspiring by example, and occasionally even humoring members of the profession who likely don’t...

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