Anyone familiar with the ongoing debate on humanistic education sparked by Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, E.D. Hirsch, Jr.’s Cultural Literacy, and two successive reports by the National Endowment for the Humanities, issued under William J. Bennett and Lynne V. Cheney, will recognize many of the charges leveled in this book. Seldom, however, has the case been made so eloquently, or with such keen awareness of the underlying issues at stake.
For Roger Kimball, managing editor of the New Criterion, the debate on “opening” the literary “canon” has been accompanied by a trivialization of the humanities curriculum and the obliteration of any distinction between high culture and pop entertainment. Under the name of “theory,” criticism has usurped the role of the work of art it supposedly illuminates. More generally, American higher education is under assault by a number of movements such as radical feminism, deconstruction, and ethnic studies, which seek to subordinate traditional scholarly inquiry to left-wing politics, and thereby threaten the very basis of academic disciplines.
You have read all your free articles this month. Existing subscriber? Please sign in
Would you like to read this one too?
Sign up for our free e-newsletter, featuring a handpicked selection of our best articles, some of them exclusively bypassing our paywall only through the newsletter. As a welcome gift, we will unlock this article for you right now.
Please enjoy reading it with our compliments: