The University in Ruins

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Harvard University Press, 1996 - Education - 238 pages
10 Reviews

It is no longer clear what role the University plays in society. The structure of the contemporary University is changing rapidly, and we have yet to understand what precisely these changes will mean. Is a new age dawning for the University, the renaissance of higher education under way? Or is the University in the twilight of its social function, the demise of higher education fast approaching?

We can answer such questions only if we look carefully at the different roles the University has played historically and then imagine how it might be possible to live, and to think, amid the ruins of the University. Tracing the roots of the modern American University in German philosophy and in the work of British thinkers such as Newman and Arnold, Bill Readings argues that historically the integrity of the modern University has been linked to the nation-state, which it has served by promoting and protecting the idea of a national culture. But now the nation-state is in decline, and national culture no longer needs to be either promoted or protected. Increasingly, universities are turning into transnational corporations, and the idea of culture is being replaced by the discourse of "excellence." On the surface, this does not seem particularly pernicious.

The author cautions, however, that we should not embrace this techno-bureaucratic appeal too quickly. The new University of Excellence is a corporation driven by market forces, and, as such, is more interested in profit margins than in thought. Readings urges us to imagine how to think, without concession to corporate excellence or recourse to romantic nostalgia within an institution in ruins. The result is a passionate appeal for a new community of thinkers.

  

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Review: The University in Ruins

User Review  - Lucille - Goodreads

Readings does a great job raising some very real and important issues with the modern University. The fact that most institutions aka corporations today are completely profit driven instead of focused ... Read full review

Review: The University in Ruins

User Review  - Charles - Goodreads

A valuable reflection. This review is not meant as damning by faint praise, but rather to remain succinct as well as sincere: Readings really thinks through many issues which, of course, have only gotten work in the 15+ years since its publication. Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
The Idea of Excellence
21
The Decline of the NationState
44
The University within the Limits of Reason
54
The University and the Idea of Culture
62
Literary Culture
70
Culture Wars and Cultural Studies
89
The Posthistorical University
119
1968
135
The Scene of Teaching
150
Dwelling in the Ruins
166
The Community of Dissensus
180
Notes
195
Index
229
Copyright

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Spaces of Hope
David Harvey
Limited preview - 2000
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About the author (1996)

Bill Readings was Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at the Université de Montréal.

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