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ERIC Number: EJ783434
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jan-11
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Big Brains, Small Impact
Jacoby, Russell
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n18 pB5 Jan 2008
Earlier 20th-century thinkers like Lewis Mumford and Edmund Wilson kept the university and its apparatus at arm's length. Indeed, they often disdained it. They oriented themselves toward an educated public, and, as a result, they developed a straightforward prose and gained a nonprofessional audience. As his reputation grew, Wilson printed up a postcard that he sent to those who requested his services. On it he checked the appropriate box: Edmund Wilson does not write articles or books on order; he does not write forewords or introductions, does not give interviews or appear on television, and does not participate in symposia. Later intellectual generations, including, paradoxically, the rebellious 60s cohort, do give interviews; do write articles on demand; and most evidently do participate in symposia. They grew up in a much-expanded campus universe and never left its safety. Younger intellectuals became professors who geared their work toward their colleagues and specialized journals. Twenty years ago, the author published "The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe," which put into circulation the term "public intellectual." He offered a generational explanation for what he saw as the eclipse of younger intellectuals. Why in 1987 had the same intellectuals dominated for more than 20 years, with few new faces among them? Why was it that the Daniel Bells or Gore Vidals or Kenneth Galbraiths seemed to lack successors? Professionalization and academization appeared to be the reason. Younger intellectuals were retreating into specialized and cloistered environments. In this article, the author argues the differences of later intellectual generations from earlier 20th-century thinkers.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail: circulation@chronicle.com; Web site: http://chronicle.com/
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States