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Education and the Academic Left: Critical Reflections on Todd Gitlin

From: College Literature
33.4, Fall 2006
pp. 137-154 | 10.1353/lit.2006.0056


This study provides a critical reading of Todd Gitlin's The Intellectuals and the Flag (2006) in the context of his writing on the university and what he calls the "academic left" over the past decade. The focus is on Gitlin's critiques of various types of social theory and research which he finds distinctive of "the academic left," as well as on his reflections on education and the university. The essay argues that Gitlin's critique articulates with the rightwing attack on the university and academic left, reproducing positions first popularized by Allan Bloom in The Closing of the American Mind (1987). Like Bloom, Gitlin bemoans the influence of German romanticism, Big T Theory, cultural studies, and certain versions of multiculturalism, thus positioning Gitlin as the leftwing of the right's attack on the university and academic left.

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