Week 3, February 8: Institutional Legacies

Yahya al-Wasiti. Scholars in the Library of the House of Wisdom, Maqamat al-Hariri, Baghdad 1237 AD; via Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Codex Parisinus Arabus 5847, fol. 5v.; public domain

This week we’ll study the simultaneously noble and ignoble legacies of the university, explore the institution’s various genealogies, and consider how those histories have shaped the present and (should!) inform potential future courses of action toward reform. 

🚨🚨 We’ll meet virtually this week to accommodate our external guests!

Guest Lecture, 6 to 7:30pm: Chad Wellmon, Professor of German Studies and History at the University of Virginia   
Rachel Buurma and Andy Hines from Swarthmore College 

Academic Object Analysis Presentations: Amanda

To Prepare for Today: 

Via Radcliffe Institute; fair use


  • James Axtell, “Foundings” in Wisdom’s Workshop: The Rise of the Modern University (Princeton University Press, 2016): 1-42. 
  • William Clark, Academic Charisma and the Origins of the Research University (University of Chicago Press, 2006). 
  • Cathy Davidson, “Quarter-Life Crisis” in The New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux (Basic Books, 2017): 17-46.
  • Degrees of Freedom: Higher Education in America,” Backstory Radio (September 26, 2014). 
  • Chales Dorn, For the Common Good: A New History of Higher Education in America (Cornell University Press, 2017). 
  • Charlie Eaton, Bankers in the Ivory Tower: The Troubling Rise of Financiers in US Higher Education (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming February 2022). 
  • Rosalie Zdzienicka Fanshel, “The Morrill Act as Racial Contract: Settler-Colonialism and U.S. Higher Education,” Joseph A. Myers Center for Research on Native American Issues Working Paper Series, UC Berkeley, December 2020. 
  • Roger L. Geiger, Prologue in The History of American Higher Education: Learning and Culture from the Founding to World War II (Princeton University Press, 2016): xiii-xviii. 
  • Roger L. Geiger, American Higher Education since World War II: A History (Princeton University Press, 2019). 
  • Reinhold Martin, “Frontier as Symbolic Form” in Knowledge Worlds: Media, Materiality, and the Making of the Modern University (Columbia University Press 2021): 195-222.
  • NAPSA, with John Thelin, “History of Higher Education,” NAPSA Leadership Podcast 55 (2019). 
  • Margaret A. Nash, “Entangled Pasts: Land-Grant Colleges and American Indian Dispossession,” History of Education Quarterly 59:4 (2019). 
  • New Books Network’s Education channel
  • Christopher Newfield, Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University (Duke University Press, 2004).
  • Christopher Newfield, Unmaking the Public University: The Forty-Year Assault on the Middle Class (Harvard University Press, 2011). 
  • Bill Readings, The University in Ruins (Harvard University Press, 1997). 
  • Paul Reitter and Chad Wellmon, eds., Charisma and Disenchantment: The Vocation Lectures (New York Review Books, 2020). 
  • Julie Reuben, The Making of the Modern University: Intellectual Transformation and the Marginalization of Morality (University of Chicago Press, 1996). 
  • Noliwe Rooks, White Money / Black Power: The Surprising History of African-American Studies and the Crisis of Race in Higher Education (Beacon Press, 2007). 
  • Nathan M. Sorber, Land Grant Colleges and Popular Revolt: The Origins of the Morrill Act and the Reform of Higher Education (Cornell University Press, 2018). 
  • Sharon Stein, “A Colonial History of the Higher Education Present: Rethinking Land-Grant Institutions Through Processes of Accumulation and Relations of Conquest,” Critical Studies in Education 651:2 (2020). 
  • John R. Thelin, A History of American Higher Education, 3rd ed. (Johns Hopkins  University Press, 2019). 
  • Chad Wellmon, Organizing Enlightenment: Information Overload and the Invention of the Modern Research University (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015). 
  • Craig Steven Wilder, Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities (Bloomsbury, 2013). 
  • Mabel O. Wilson [on the University of Virginia Memorial to Enslaved Laborers] in Swati Shattopadhyay, Mabel O. Wilson, and Peter Christensen, “Unlearning, Part I,” Platform (November 29, 2021). 
  • See also the work of Burton Clark, Hugh Hawkins, Maresi Nerad, Olaf Pedersen, Frederick Rudolph, Barbara Miller Solomon, Martin Trow, Laurence Veysey; more here