The modern American university is in transition, undergoing major changes to its very structure and function. While few of these changes are reflective of the rhetorical language of economic freedom, liberty, choice, and rights used in promoting the neoliberal state project, many others are clear indications of the re-coronation of a capitalistic oligarchy and the reinstatement of its class supremacy through the exploitation of society. While most of the critical literature in higher education attends to the structural macroscopic effects of the new capitalism, it is the argument in this article that more attention should be paid to the subjective microscopic embodiment of neoliberalism in various higher education contexts. This article starts by describing the rise of neoliberal tendencies in today’s higher education. It then describes capitalistic trends in today’s university. The article then moves to a historical grounding of the neoliberal narrative in American culture, showing that its inception could be correlated with pressures caused by partial gains made by the civil rights movement; and that the presence of such narrative in higher education today serves a class function. The article concludes by outlining a pragmatist pedagogy of embodiment that may counter the neoliberal narrative in today’s university.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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Figure 1