Anti-Intellectualism: A Continuing American Legacy


One of the most influential books on my own vision of academia and American life is Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. Though I have serious reservations about parts of it, I return to the book again and again. Not surprisingly, I thought of it once more, today, when I read Patricia Williams’ article in The Guardian, “Anti-Intellectualism Is Taking Over the US.” It’s almost three years old, but worth reading if you (like me) have not previously seen it. Williams writes:

There are a number of factors at play in the current rash of controversies. One is a rather stunning sense of privilege, the confident sense of superiority that allows someone to pass sweeping judgment on a body of work without having done any study at all. After the Chronicle of Higher Education published an item highlighting the dissertations of five young PhD candidates in African-American studies…

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