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ERIC Number: EJ786600
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jan-25
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Creative Class, Dismissed
Fendrich, Laurie
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n20 pB10 Jan 2008
Recently the author has been including in her undergraduate seminars Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "Letter to d'Alembert on the Theatre" (1758), the most provocative essay on the arts ever written. It is about the unintended effects of theater--which, for Rousseau, stands in for all of the arts--on an audience. The essay is an impassioned rebuttal to the 1757 entry on Geneva, written by Jean Le Rond d'Alembert, in the huge Enlightenment project, "Encyclopedie," in which d'Alembert says that Geneva would be an even finer city if only it didn't have laws banning theater. Rousseau says that, on the contrary, theater would actually be harmful to the citizens of Calvinist Geneva and tries to prove that the prohibition is a good thing. To the author's students, Rousseau's astonishing position collides head-on with the TV-drenched, movie-dependent, iPodified, grind-dancing world in which many of them spend a good part of their lives. The idea that their world of stories and entertainment--even in its more respectable precincts such as "Masterpiece Theatre" and U2 benefit concerts--could possibly be harmful to them is the furthest thing from their minds. There is no happy reconciliation of art and morals at the end of reading Rousseau, as there is in, say, Kant or Schiller. There's only a stark question: What do we choose--art or virtue?
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A