May 1, 1997
Vol. 16, No. 16

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    Scholars.. revisit Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind"

    Conference focuses on education of 'Generation X' Leading scholars and writers, including novelists Joyce Carol Oates and A.B. Yehoshua, will gather at the University to discuss the education of America's "Generation X" in "The Closing of the American Mind Revisited," to be held Friday, May 16, through Sunday, May 18. The conference will address the continuing relevance of the book The Closing of the American Mind by the late Allan Bloom, the John U. Nef Distinguished Service Professor in the Committee on Social Thought.

    When it was published in 1987, The Closing of the American Mind was "greeted with uncommon measures of both praise and blame, and for some years was the focus of sometimes bitter controversy, especially within the academy," said Nathan Tarcov, Professor in Political Science and Director of the John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy, which is organizing the conference.

    "Allan Bloom described his book as 'a meditation on the state of our souls, particularly those of the young, and their education.' In the conference, we will focus our attention for the most part on 'Generation X,' the generation of students that has emerged in the past decade," said Tarcov.

    The conference will open at 1 p.m. Friday, May 16, in the third-floor theater of Ida Noyes Hall with the session "The Academy and the Polity," featuring Ira Katznelson, the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Political Science at Columbia, and Harvey Mansfield, the I. Ruggles Professor of Government at Harvard. A panel discussion, "The Character of 'Generation X'," will follow at 3 p.m. with Robert Fulford, a columnist for The Globe and Mail in Toronto, and Diana Schaub, professor of political science at Loyola College in Maryland.

    On Saturday, May 17, the conference will continue at 10 a.m. in Max Palevsky Cinema, Ida Noyes Hall, with "The Teaching of Literature," which will include presentations by Frank Kermode, an influential British literary critic, and James Seaton, professor of English at Michigan State University. They will then be joined in conversation by A.B. Yehoshua, an Israeli novelist and Visiting Professor in the Committee on Social Thought, and novelist Joyce Carol Oates, the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton.

    At 2 p.m., in the third-floor theater of Ida Noyes Hall, a panel will address "The Power of Books and Music in the Souls of the Young." Speakers at that session will be Martha Bayles, literary editor for the Wilson Quarterly, Paul Cantor, professor of English at the University of Virginia and music critic and essayist Stanley Crouch. The session "Feminism and Identity in the Academy" will follow at 4 p.m. with K. Anthony Appiah, professor of Afro-American studies and philosophy at Harvard, and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, the Eleanor Raul Professor of the Humanities at Emory.

    The conference will close with "Nihilism, American Style?" at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 18, in the third-floor theater of Ida Noyes Hall. The speakers at that session will be Robert Pippin, Professor and Chairman of the Committee on Social Thought, and Clifford Orwin, professor of political science at the University of Toronto.

    For more information, call the Olin Center at 702-3423.