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Autobiography of an ArchiveA Scholar's Passage to India$
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Nicholas Dirks

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231169677

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231169677.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

The Opening of the American Mind

The Opening of the American Mind

(p.321) 15 The Opening of the American Mind
Autobiography of an Archive

Nicholas B. Dirks

Columbia University Press

This chapter reflects on how Allan Bloom's controversial book, The Closing of the American Mind, influenced his engagement with the history and anthropology of India (and empire). Bloom's book, published in 1987, fired the “first shot of the culture wars” by sparking a spirited debate about college life, the place of the liberal arts, and as Bloom put it, “the state of our soul.” The Closing of the American Mind was received by fellow academics either with scorn or anger, making Bloom the poster child for a neoconservative onslaught against the university. According to Bloom, history was “a means to avoid testing our own prejudices.” The culture wars reflected the fundamental importance of humanist education in the last decades of the twentieth century. The chapter also considers the views of Hanna Holborn Gray, a historian and former president of the University of Chicago, about the value of the liberal arts for the idea of the university.

Keywords:   history, anthropology, India, Allan Bloom, culture wars, liberal arts, university, humanist education, Hanna Holborn Gray

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