Why Is Stanley Fish Teaching at Florida’s New College?


An interview about politics, academic freedom, and “ideological odor.”

Stanley Fish is in the last phase of his storied career as a Renaissance scholar, law professor, and college administrator. “I’m still here,” he told me. “And as of yesterday, still playing basketball.” He’s also still teaching — a course on Milton, his early area of scholarly expertise, and a course on “How to Write a Sentence.” He’s especially excited about the course on Milton, whom he hasn’t taught in twenty years.

Both courses will be at the New College of Florida, the small public liberal arts college at the center of right-wing activist Chris Rufo and Florida governor Ron DeSantis’s conservative overhaul — or takeover — of the state’s college system. Rufo, who has been appointed to New College’s board of trustees, described his infiltration of the institution this way: “We are over the walls, and ready to transform higher education from within.”