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The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University (Issues of Our Time) Hardcover – January 18, 2010
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While Menand refrains from making many specific recommendations (his goal is to describe the paradoxes and anxieties of the liberal arts academy rather than to advocate for a particular response), one gets the strong sense that he thinks academics should make their peace with the university's inevitable role in the world and stop trying so hard to tilt against it. Such a conclusion is implicit in pithy statements like the following: "To the extent that this system [American higher education, with its roots in the 19th century] still determines the possibilities for producing and disseminating knowledge, trying to reform the contemporary university is like trying to get on the Internet with a typewriter, or like riding a horse to the mall" (17). These are the words of a reformer; though exactly what reforms Menand wants remain unclear, it seems obvious that they will involve higher education embracing its role in the world more self-consciously and vigorously.Read more ›
Menand's focus is primarily elite institutions, four-year liberal arts colleges and the top universities that stress liberal arts and sciences for their undergraduates. He provides an instructive history of selected innovations at these schools, stretching back to the late nineteenth century. He does a good job, too, of bringing to the surface certain fundamental tensions inherent in the motivating ideas. Menand has a broad vision for how higher education could do better, although in this volume he does not offer any programmatic detail.
The strongest chapter, in my opinion, is the first. Menand points out how on the one hand liberal education has been promoted as "preparation for life," but on the other as the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, unencumbered by worldly objectives. Liberal education is sometimes thought of as a body of knowledge that all educated persons should know, but also as a way of thinking, applicable to all specialized areas of inquiry. As Menand observes, these various notions of what liberal education is and what it is supposed to achieve are often incompatible with one another.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I lived in Cambridge, MA for 20 years and knew many Harvard people. One of my friends said, What can you say about a college that has its own accent? Read morePublished 2 months ago by doug korty
This collection of essays provides an eclectic history of the American university, build around four themes. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Arthur Digbee
I bought it to critique it, having read selections from it on line. However, it is hard to get through, being replete with ideological screed and sloganistic terminology where... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Edward G. Rozycki
Solid book. Where Menand shines is as a historian of humanities education in the US. The highlights are the first and last chapters. Read morePublished 12 months ago by David Perez
Menand is a good writer and the American educational history here-- especially from the period of 1870-1970-- is often well-detailed and informative. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Johann Cat
Having spent my life in higher education, I was so busy with my discipline I forget to review the philosophical underpinnings of what I was a part of and why it was structured in a... Read morePublished on May 26, 2014 by L. P. Mercer
Louis Menand, Harvard English professor and writer on American literature and culture, serves up here an intelligent but not completely cohesive set of musings on higher education... Read morePublished on March 16, 2013 by MoseyOn
This week, faculty and staff at my institution will be getting together to discuss Louis Menand's The Marketplace of Ideas: Reform and Resistance in the American University. Read morePublished on March 26, 2011 by Joshua Kim
This is a book characteristic of the times of decadence we are in. Under almost every conclusion of the book is hidden the corporatism perspective concerning higher education and... Read morePublished on February 25, 2011 by Bibliopolis05