Aesthetics, Politics, Academics


Bruce Robbins, editor

Intellectuals: Aesthetics, Politics, Academics was first published in 1990. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Intellectuals, we are told, are an endangered species. Once at the center of crucial debates about politics and culture, today they have forsaken their proud and public-spirited independence and retreated into the shelter of the academy, the inconsequence of postmodern aesthetics, the rarefactions of poststructuralist theory. Once free-floating and oppositional, they have now been grounded.

The essays in Intellectuals: Aesthetics, Politics, Academics, dispute this diagnosis, rethinking the heritage of controversy over intellectuals in the light of the Bennett-Bloom backlash. Unafraid to place intellectuals in specific historical context, they do not defend an illusory autonomy but analyze and evaluate the situatedness of intellectuals, their real and potential role in the circumstances that define our public life: the media, government bureaucracy, the university, the “new social movements.” In these circumstances they seek new grounding for the responsibilities of public opposition.

Bruce Robbins is Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. He is the author of The Servant’s Hand: English Fiction from Below.

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