Rise of the Research University

The Rise of the Research University: A Sourcebook is out from the University of Chicago Press. Read Fichte, Humboldt, and Schelling alongside Eliot, Gilman, and Hutchins. The modern research university is a global institution with a rich history that stretches into an ivy-laden past, but for as much as we think we know about that past, […]

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Permanent Crisis: The Humanities in a Disenchanted Age

In the winter of 1872, Friedrich Nietzsche, then a classics professor still in his mid-twenties, delivered a series of lectures on the future of education in Germany . They were held in Basel, where Nietzsche was working then. When he arrived in 1869 from Leipzig to this Swiss enclave on the Rhine, he encountered an […]

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Field of Dreams: On Public Universities

Shortly before his death in in 2010, the historian Tony Judt recalled driving across the United States as a young man. Having come of age in the austerity of postwar Britain, Judt saw much to marvel over in 1970s America. As he traveled by Buick from Boston to a job at the University of California, […]

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The Will is Not Enough

 This fall, the former ur-blogger Andrew Sullivan wrote an article in New York Magazine titled “I Used to Be a Human Being.” There, Sullivan referenced Alan Jacobs’ article “Habits of Mind in an Age of Distraction,” from our summer 2016 issue, and wrote about his addiction to information and his attempt to rediscover his humanity. The article […]

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The Future of Search

Today, to search is to google. Specifically, it is to use Google’s search engine to find something on the Web. As for those other searches that once helped define the human condition—for meaning, love, purpose, or God—those have, in little more than a decade, assumed almost secondary importance.

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Knowledge Machines: University to Search Engine

For critics on the political left and right, the contemporary and increasingly data-driven university has become a bureaucratic behemoth, a rational system that expunges the personal and particular in favor of the quantifiable and universal. Consider here in the UK, the Research Excellence Framework and its accounting of over 191,150 “research outputs” in the past […]

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The Visibility of Knowledge

I am happy to announce that a new collaboration with Andrew Piper’s .txtLab and Mohamed Cheriet’s Synrchomedia Lab has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The project is called “The Visibility of Knowledge: The Computational Study of Scientific Illustration in the Nineteenth Century.” Our aim is to study how scientific knowledge became visible to readers […]

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Revolution U: What today’s critics of the university get right…and wrong.

Since at least the nineteenth century, research universities from Berlin to Baltimore have been indispensable institutions. They have conserved, created, and circulated knowledge not just for the specialized scholars within their ivied and bricked walls but also for the communities outside them. Research universities authorized and legitimated knowledge. They helped separate fact from fallacy. The […]

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Bibliotherapy

Of the power of art, history, and philosophy to change us there are few instances more straightforward than Rilke’s sonnet “Archaic Torso of Apollo,” in which a confrontation with classical sculpture ends with the injunction, “You must change your life.” It might seem, at first, a short step from that stern command to branding Rilke’s […]

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Googling Before Google: A Brief History of Search

To search is to google––to use Google’s search engine to find something on the Web. The search for meaning, love, purpose, or God––search as an existential feature of being human––has, in little more than a decade, been reduced to a secondary meaning.

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