Title

Political Metaphors: Teaching on a Cold-War Campus

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2001

Department

English

Language

English

Publication Title

John and Mary's Journal

Abstract

In March 1956, William Edel, the President of Dickinson College suspended an economics instructor after he invoked the Fifth Amendment in testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee. What follows is not a narrative history, although the story of how Laurent LaVallee's dismissal changed the College merits a comprehensive record. Instead, this paper considers the decade of political struggle between the faculty and administration over the LaVallee case as an occasion to explore thematic tensions at a moment when the College was in a cultural transition. Like all cases of academic McCarthyism, Dickinson's concerned issues of political discourse, educational politics and power, and the delicate distinction between the public and private persona of the teacher. But coming at a particularly vulnerable time in the College's history--as it tried to sustain its insular, religious, and anti-professional traditions in the face of rapid and radical innovations in national education policy--the LaVallee case inspired a fierce struggle to define the meaning of professional behavior, the relationship of administration to faculty and students, and the shape of the curriculum.

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