Our schools and colleges often make the intellectual life seem more impenetrable, narrowly specialized, and inaccessible than it is or needs to be, argues this eminent scholar and educator, whose provocative book offers a wealth of practical suggestions for making the culture of ideas and arguments more readily understandable.
“Graff is reopening the door on a major debate. In the wake of theory, in the wake of feminism, post-colonial criticism and all the rest, what is a liberal arts education supposed to be about? How should teachers teach? What should students learn? Intelligently, humanely, Gerald Graff is bringing all of these questions back home to the classroom, which, at least for now, seems exactly where they belong.”—Mark Edmundson, Washington Post Book World
“['Graff] writes with lucidity and charm. . . . A worthwhile work.”—Steven Lagerfeld, Wall Street Journal
“Clueless in Academe is charming. . . . The reader chuckles in recognition over the tales told of scholars and students.”—Terence Kealey, The Times Higher Education Supplement
All through the book, he brings forward the views of those who don't agree with him on one subject or another. He gives them a fair hearing; he gives his readers a chance to change their minds. Is the culture of argumentation that Graff endorses an aggressive, hyper-masculine culture? He thinks not, but the argument he offers against his own position is full enough and fair enough to allow readers to disagree with him. Out to create good citizens, Graff often shows himself a remarkably responsible citizen in his own right. He's very candid about the collaborative nature of some of the work he has done to get into a position to write this book. He credits not just big names in the professoriat but also assiduously cites lots of lesser-known teachers and scholars. There's an appealingly democratic quality to the entire endeavor. Graff is reopening the door on a major debate. — Mark Edmundson