Join the discussion
all scholars consider themselves public intellectuals?
Public and the Intellectuals
and speaking beyond the academy
can't say that everybody should be a public intellectual. People
are diversely gifted. That ought to be something we celebrate.
Johnson, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian
inventors or discoverers of knowledge should be in the business
of disseminating that knowledge.
Sheth, Kellstadt Professor of Marketing
transfer and the future of the university
your research concern Atlanta?
University Decides That Its Ph.D.'s Should Be Able to Talk to
From the Chronicle of Higher Education, October 8, 1999
The Uncertain Value of Training
From the Chronicle of Higher Education, September 24,
Do Academic Giants Still Walk
From the Chronicle of
Higher Education, September 10, 1999
Academic Exchange October/November
1999 Contents Page
Last spring, Emory's Center for the Study of
Public Scholarship hosted a two-day workshop on Critical Conjunctions:
Institutional Critique, Cultural Brokerage, and Cultural Display.
The first excerpt below is taken from a paper titled "Intellectuals,
Culture, Policy: The Technical, the Practical, and the Critical,"
by Tony Bennett, professor of sociology at the Open University
in England. The second excerpt is part of a comment from Ivan
Karp, National Endowment for the Humanities Professor and director
of the Center for the Study of Public Scholarship at Emory.
[Edward] Said's Representations
of the Intellectual provides a convenient example of the practice
'secular holiness' and the forms of critical intolerance and
of ethical bullying it entails. Said's strategy in elaborating
his view of the intellectual as an exile and marginal, as an
amateur whose true vocation is "to speak the truth to power,"
depends on trapping professionals, experts, and consultants in
the contaminating mire of their associations with worldly powers
and the limitations, of perspective or of moral capacity, that
But how clear-sighted is the universal intellectual when he has
cut a moral trench between himself and other intellectual workers?
In truth: not very. Said, in what he has to say about the relationships
between in-tellectuals and government, surveys the world through
the tinted lenses of a metropolitan parochialism whose belief
in its universal validity is based on nothing so much as a constitutive
blindness to its own forms of limiting particularity. For when
Said--speaking to and for all the world--places true intellectuals
outside of government and charges them to speak the truth to
power, it is clear that he imagines government always and only
in the form of some branch of the U.S. science-military-industry
complex. The possibility that, in other parts of the world, intellectuals
might see themselves as speaking the truth to and for more local
forms of power, with a view to muting or qualifying the effects
of other forms of power, is simply not thinkable from within
Said's elementary, bi-polar construction of the relations of
truth and power.
--Tony Bennett, The
I had a strong response to
Tony's critique of Edward Said. I thought of several things.
The first was the way in which Emory University, in common with
so many of our well-off educational institutions in the United
States, configures the role
of the public intellectual in society. There is nothing so prestigious
at Emory as to bring in someone for a year or longer who is an
important person to sit here and think deep thoughts and somehow,
by virtue of thinking them, change the structure of society.
But over and over again, that act of bringing public intellectuals
into the institution does not seem to entail the engagement of
those public intellectuals with people in the institution itself,
or the multiple communities who are part of the university constituencies.
Once we've done the story and the publicity is out, we move on.
Yet the gap between the academy and the cadres of public scholars
who work in so many communities and non-academic cultural institutions
remains as wide as ever.
The second thought I had was that Tony also could apply his criticism
equally well to a certain notion of the role of the artist as
a uniquely creative individual that legitimizes so much that
passes for cultural production these days. The concept of the
artist and other public intellectuals, as well, is fundamentally
Romantic and characteristic of a nineteenth-century conception
of art and individuality that Isaiah Berlin refers to as "the
apotheosis of the Romantic will." Somehow, the very act
of creativity or cognition is deemed to be transforming of society,
without any other kind of work or action. A kind of aesthetic
magic is involved whereby an appreciative audience is changed
by virtue of contact with artists and/or intellectuals and their
work. . . . It seems to me that this stance ignores the insertion
of artists into society as much as inserting so-called public
intellectuals in the university ignores the fact that, as Antonio
Gramsci said, "all men are intellectuals. But not all men
have in society the function of intellectuals."
--Ivan Karp, Emory