This Week in History: How Noam Chomsky Came to Speak at ESU

The original image published with the article (Credit: The Stroud Courier)

Aliyah Williams


The Stroud Courier published the following story by staff writer Kevin Skilton on Feb. 7, 2013.

Only critical style issues have been changed.

Noam Chomsky was scheduled to speak at East Stroudsburg University on Wednesday, Feb. 6.

Chomsky was to present his lecture on “Public Education and the Common Good” at Abeloff Center from 1-3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

When professors spoke about bringing Chomsky to ESU, one name in particular kept appearing.

“When the faculty learned that ESU had this unique opportunity to bring such a distinguished intellectual to campus, a number of ESU APSCUF leaders and academic department chairs worked collaboratively to find a way to make this event happen,” said Dr. Nancy VanArsdale, English department chair. “Dr. Prium has done most of the work.”

When asked how Chomsky ended up at ESU, Dr. Peter Prium of the philosophy department stated that a student contacted him about a lecture by Chomsky already scheduled at Lehigh University.

At first, Dr. Prium thought it would not be possible for ESU to afford such a renowned speaker, but the student further informed him that Chomsky only asked for a minimal fee compared to other speakers. Dr. Prium then added that Chomsky was not speaking for the money, but rather to get out into the world and influence society.

“I couldn’t believe Noam Chomsky was coming here, 84 years old, and he couldn’t be doing enough,” said Dr. Prium.

According to Dr. Prium, Chomsky has taken his “speaker’s fee” and decided to donate the money back to ESU, under the condition that the fund be focused on “local activism.” The fee will be donated towards bringing future speakers to ESU.

“I don’t remember many of my classes in college, but I remember two times specifically when Eugene McCarthy and Ralph Nader spoke,” stated Prium, as he emphasized the importance of this lecture.

“I asked Dr. Prium to describe the importance of Noam Chomsky’s visit to focuses such as philosophy, English, and communication studies. He responded that it would be equivalent to “what it would be like for the Beatles to visit the Music Department.”

Chomsky, a well-known linguist, was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. He received his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. While teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Chomsky made profound changes in the field of linguistics and has also strongly influenced multiple other disciplines.

Chomsky’s work in linguistics has affected cognitive learning in psychology, and argued against John Locke’s “black slate” theory in Philosophy; his views in politics, especially in his lecture “Manufacturing Consent,” have greatly affected the way we study mass media.

Chomsky has also made himself known for his political views. Being described as a traditional anarchist, Chomsky has many views that disagree with the common view of society. In “Manufacturing Consent,” he argues that without full freedom of speech, people are influenced by the US government, which uses media as a propaganda tool, and only focuses on one side of the story. 

The ESU event was free of charge and one of the most momentous moments in the university’s academic presentations.