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Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University Hardcover – January 16, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0226109213 ISBN-10: 0226109216 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (January 16, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226109216
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226109213
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,880,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“We are used to thinking of academic structures and pomp as ‘traditional,’ a throwback to an unspecified earlier time—maybe antiquity, maybe more recent. By contrast, William Clark gives the material and sociological bricks of the ivory tower historical specificity and by doing so takes the university apart. How do the category and comportment of the modern professor come into being? Are researchers heroes? Are they gentlemen? Are they bureaucrats? Robes and disputations, exams, and architecture: all grist for Clark’s mill. In this historical dissection of the university, Clark has created a world that is at once very erudite and immensely funny, an imaginative and beautifully researched step beyond the schematics of Bourdieu’s classic Homo Academicus. Anyone who wants to understand how universities got to be the way they are should grab this book off the shelf.”

(Peter Galison, Harvard University)

“William Clark is an incredibly original and sensible traveler through the history of German academia. The book is a marvel in its combination of stupendous scholarship and enjoyable reading. After all, Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University is like a mirror that shows us academics numerous characteristics of ourselves and our institutions, details we usually ignore.”

(Michael Hagner, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)

“This magisterial book offers a compelling new account of the origins of the research-based university. Drawing on an astonishing wealth of sources, it explores in fascinating detail the transformations of university life from the Reformation to the Romantic era. This will be required reading for historians of European culture and for all academics curious about their origins.”

(Nick Jardine, University of Cambridge)

"An enlightening look at what disputations, examinations, research seminars, appointments, advanced degrees, and scholarship represented in a bygone era, this volume is a challenging but worthy read."
(College & Research Libraries News 2006-05-01)

"In almost any way that one can imagine, Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University is an astonishing book. . . . Many times the prose is purposefully funny and anything but dryasdust academic writing. No summary can do justice to a book so relentless in analysis and so rich in original source material. . . . It is astonishing in style voice, structure, method, conception, breadth and learning. . . . This is a brilliant book. The styles and methods may be recognizable, but the whole is daringly new, exciting and disturbing."
(Sheldon Rothblatt American Scientist 2006-09-15)

"[Clark] makes his case with analytic shrewdness, an exuberant love of archival anecdote, and a wry sense of humor. It's hard to resist a writer who begins by noting, 'Befitting the subject, this is an odd book.'"
(Anthony Grafton New Yorker 2006-10-23)

"An anthropology of university life. . . .an analysis of the academic self. [Clark] tells us how academics became who and what they are."
(Anthony Smith Times Higher Education Supplement 2006-12-08)

"Focusing on changes between the 1770s and the 1830s, Clark offers detailed accounts of lecture and seminar formats, grading systems, the conduct of examinations, the doctoral dissertation, library catalogs, and the appointment of professors. He argues that traditional academic customs and practices were transformed by market forces and competition among the small states of 18thcentury Germany. To reap the benefits of having prestigious universities and scholars, bureaucrats established criteria for monitoring classroom diligence and publication productivity. This wideranging, thought-provoking book will reward anyone interested in the origins and early evolution of modern Homo academius and its environment."

(Science 2007-05-25)

"Clark has written a readable and thoroughly researched account of crucial changes in the medieval university that resulted in the modern academy. He describes these shifts with humor and insight, illuminating traditions and rituals that would otherwise remain lost in time."
(Robert N. Matuozzi Libraries and the Cultural Record)

About the Author

William Clark is visiting assistant professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and coeditor of The Sciences in Enlightened Europe, also published by the University of Chicago Press.


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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A reader reader on June 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At the end of the book, Clark tells us that in 1989 he (then a newly minted PhD in history) received the following comment from one of his former teachers, who had just read the original "Urtext" from which this book grew: "It is too bad I did not have time to combat in you your pernicious Foucaultian reading of Weber's rationalization theories!" This is funny (the book often is -- I found myself laughing out loud several times -- no doubt because some of the analyses struck a little close to home!). It's funny in part because it makes his old teacher look a bit like a hopeless fuddy-duddy (the kind of historian who approves of Weber but not Foucault -- a real generational divide!). But it's also revealing: Clark's book really does read as a Foucaultian micrology of the university, one which teases a "grand metanarrative" about its historical development out of a series of analyses of mundane material items like lists, charts, drawings, etc. found in the archives.

Clarks's grand narrative -- the eclipse of the oral by the written in the Academy -- sounds more Derridean than Foucaultian actually, but the real point of the book seem to be to show how productive an exercise in Foucaultian method can be, to show how much can be learned from a series of painstaking analyses of miscellaneous material from the archives. These analyses are often extremely entertaining and interesting. (I did find some for me uninteresting stretches, but they never lasted too long, and the book rewards the reader's patience by eventually getting good again -- indeed, it keeps you reading for nearly 500 pages... no mean feat these days!
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Lee D. Carlson HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fascinating beyond measure, and a work that should be read by anyone who has experience in academia, this book details the history, attitudes, and influences behind the modern research university. The latter has been subjected to harsh criticism of late, and some of this is justified, so this book will be helpful in assessing the validity of this criticism, in addition to providing information to the purely curious reader. The author interjects humor into the text, and sometimes a great deal of cynicism, but as a whole the book should sit on the shelf of every academician, both professor and administrator. Those who contemplate entering the academy will also benefit from its perusal, although it might scare off a few who expect the university to be populated by seekers of truth and wisdom. At times in the book the author it seems has an axe to grind, but his intentions are irrelevant in this regard. All that matters is whether or not he has provided evidence for his views. The huge collection of references at the end of the book reveals that he has done his homework, and those who disagree with his words will thus have to counter them with references of their own, a project that would of course be extremely time-consuming, but worth the effort.

For those (such as this reviewer) who are not familiar with the history behind the research university, but who crave to understand why it functions the way that it does, will find many surprises in this book and many questions answered. What are the origins for example of the doctoral dissertation, the oral exam, and the seminar? When did faculty salaries become an issue for the university? What is the origin of the endowed chair? Why are some professors held in such high esteem when their credentials are really weak in comparison to others?
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