I think there are many ways of being both an academic and a public voice.
Academics do discuss their responsibility to the larger community. So I
hope it is not simply an issue of "popular." In the case of Ambrose, it is
affected by the claims of his plagiarizing, now displaced by his death but
still part of the question of his "popular" standing. But many academics
are public figures also, unfortunately usually only economists or political
scientists. (Unfortunately only in the sense that the media choose to talk
with them but not with humanists or artists as a rule.) But everyone at
least knows OF Henry Louis Gates or of Camille Paglia or of Helen
Vendler.. Bloom has made a name by being iconoclastic, oddly enough in
the name of more traditional views.
I don't think there is or need be such an apparent contradiction between
academic and popular. This country badly needs again public intellectuals
who help frame debates.
Date sent: Mon, 21 Oct 2002 13:20:56 -0400
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Subject: Re: Rhapsody in Bloom - a book review
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Interesting point. Perhaps the issue is whether or not Bloom has attained
some level of popular or celebrity status outside university English
departments? Thus, the general reader, who would never be expected to
peruse his books, may now be aware of some new level of general interest
This issue came up on Friday's broadcast of the WSJ Editorial Board on
CNBC: Is Ambrose, recently deceased, less of a historian because he is
more "popular" than "academic?"