“Some of the smartest thinkers on problems at home and around the world are university professors, but most of them just don’t matter in today’s great debates.” So opens a recent New York Times column headlined, “Professors, We Need You!” (February 2014) Nicholas Kristof’s thoughts on the disappearance of the professoriate elicited heated responses, both irate and enthusiastic. The flap illustrates that the place of intellectuals in American life continues to generate controversy. Samuel McCormick, as assistant professor of communications at Purdue University, joins this on-going dispute with Letters to Power, a wide-ranging and historically informed study of intellectual dissent. His subtitle—Public Advocacy without Public Intellectuals—captures his larger argument. Inasmuch as the classic public intellectuals have declined or disappeared—and here he cites my own 1987 book, The Last Intellectuals—what avenues exist today for the oppositional professor? McCormick wants to find the strategies that an independent academic can employ in an era where direct attacks on established opinion are either not possible or too dangerous
"Letters to Power: Public Advocacy without Public Intellectuals,"
International Dialogue: Vol. 4, Article 10.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/id-journal/vol4/iss1/10