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Detecting Footnotes in 32 Million Pages

In “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?”, the eighteenth-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant responded to a big question buried in a little footnote. But you wouldn’t know it, because contemporary editions of Kant’s famous essay no longer reproduce the parenthetical directive that Kant’s original essay printed right under the essay’s title in the […]

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THE YEAR OF WHOSE LORD?

Before he philosophized with a hammer, Friedrich Nietzsche counted Greek metre. In 1868, the University of Basel appointed, or “called” as German academics put it to this day, the twenty-four-year-old Leipzig student a professor in ancient Greek language and literature. For several years, Nietzsche played the professional philologist, publishing erudite articles, arguing with fellow scholars […]

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Interview with “Half Hour of Heterodoxy”

In late December, Chris Martin interviewed me for “Half Hour of Heterodoxy,” the podcast run by the Heterodox Academy. In 2016, Jonathan Haidt gave a talk at a number of American universities in which he made the provocative argument that universities must choose either truth or social justice as their primary motive for operating. He argued that […]

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Permanent Crisis: The Humanities in a Disenchanted Age

Paul Reitter and I are finishing up our new book Permanent Crisis: The Humanities in a Disenchanted Age. Last month (November 2018), I turned my attention to revision and the key elements of the larger story we’re telling. In a talk I gave at the University of Richmond, I made an initial stab at something like an […]

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The End(s) of the University

On November 15, 2018, I delivered the 23rd Annual Holmes Lecture sponsored by Anselm House at the University of Minnesota. Andrew Hansen and his colleagues invited me to talk about the university as a public good and why I remain committed to it. What kinds of knowledge can a research university properly pursue and where […]

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How Professors Ceded Their Authority

In 1904, while touring the eastern half of the United States, the German sociologist Max Weber encountered an institution that would intrigue him for decades: the American college. Between delivering lectures and finishing the final drafts of what would become The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905), Weber visited Columbia University, Harvard University, Haverford College, […]

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Publication, Power, and Patronage

In 2007, the Higher Education Funding Council in England, the government body responsible for distributing funding to universities, revealed a national system to measure and compare institutions of higher education––the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Designed to assess the quality of research in institutions of higher education in the United Kingdom, the program sought to produce […]

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