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joseph duemer

I haven't read Bauerlein's book, but your review puts me in mind of Gerald Graff's Clueless in Academe, which makes the specific argument that mentors need to the young into "conversations" about literary and historical texts, rather than teaching the texts as monoliths of wisdom. My own experience in the class room suggests that Graff is correct -- I try to get my students to argue with texts & with each other, to take a position. Then, research skills become relevant. Still, it will only ever be a minority who take such matters seriously. Perhaps that makes me something of an elitist -- certainly, I don't buy Bauerlein's untopianism.


As one of a fairly large group of young people who have jobs related to the humanities; hold higher degrees; are immersed in the "classics"; run websites, journals, and book reviews; and feel as annoyed by the "me-ism" inherited from our elders as others – as well as being at the close of a historically bad presidency, a depression grounded in consistently poor decision-making over the last 20 years, and a revival of anti-science fundamentalism, in all of which we had no part – I find the thesis of this book not only naive and wrong, but wildly offensive. This generation has no fewer people engaged with intellectual matters than any before it; perhaps it only has fewer who pretend to be.

D.W. Merriman

Not bad!

...Oh, I'm not talking about the content. I have no interest in reading this. I'm talking about the marketing.

Did you look at the cover? "Never trust anyone under thirty?" It has all of the tackiness and hyperbole of a "controversial" book that is still mainstream (i.e. Katie Curic will talk about it on television).

There's a smatter of this kind of book published every year, and the formula is rather simple: Take one interesting finding from a few studies (here, that computers do not significantly improve classroom learning), write with the snappy, confident style of an OpEd columnist, and then steadily ratchet up the generalizations until the reader becomes an ideologue himself or realizes that the book has gone too far and will therefore suggest, "Read the first part, it's rather interesting, but it get's a little nutty at the end."

Kevin Holtsberry

Not all conservatives unambiguously embrace capitalism as you use it. Political conservatism is dominated by free market conservatives to a certain extent, but there is a long history of conservatives suspect of the unchecked market. But the left wants to check the market with government while these conservatives usually want to check it with independent and local institutions and social mores.


Though you've modestly declined to say as much, The Reading Experience is itself proof of the kind of "critical-intellectual discourse" that you believe already exists and may yet flourish online. Civilized "reflection and forensic" should never be taken for granted, and should always be guarded as though they were endangered species, but one has to question whether they are truly vanishing or whether they are simply moving to new forums, alarming writers like Bauerlein who find themselves at the margins of the conversation.

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