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John Wilson, Managing Editor
Stranger in a Strange Land The Idea of a University
With every issue of Books & Culture, we send a readership survey to a small number of randomly selected subscribers. We're eager to hear from you, and we appreciate the time and effort invested by those who take the trouble to return the survey forms to us. (You don't have to wait for a questionnaire, of course; we'd be happy to hear from you any time.) In a recent survey, for example, the results of which we just received, we asked about a possible new feature, offering a concise roundup of recently published books on a particular subject. The response was very positive, and you can expect to find that feature in future issues. In the meantime, as a down payment, here's a lightly annotated list of significant books on higher education, the subject of this issue's special section.
John Henry Newman's The Idea of a University is a classic cited everywhere but perhaps rarely read. A new edition, edited by Frank M. Turner (Yale University Press, 367 pp.; $35, hardcover; $18, paper, 1996), has been issued as the second volume in Yale's promising series, Rethinking the Western Tradition. (The first volume, published in 1993, was Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy.) The aim of the series is "to address the present debate over the western tradition by reprinting key works of that tradition along with essays that evaluate each text from different perspectives." So along with an abridged text of Newman's work (comprising the nine foundational discourses delivered at the Catholic University in Dublin in 1852 and published the same year, and four of the ten lectures and essays on university subjects), this volume supplies five interpretive essays, among them George Marsden's "Theology and the University: Newman's Idea and Current Realities" and George Landow's "Newman and the Idea of an Electronic University."
In our own time, Clark Kerr's The Uses of the University (Harvard University Press, 4th ed., 226 pp.; $15.95, paper, 1995) has been the single most influential book ...