Since the 1950s, writers and thinkers such as Thomas Bender, Noam Chomsky, Kenneth Clark, bell hooks, Irving Howe, Russell Jacoby, Toni Morrison, Richard Posner, Ayn Rand, Bertrand Russell, Edward Said, Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Sowell, and Cornel West have debated the meaning and purpose of public intellectuals. Many have openly criticized what they call the increasing corporatization of academic work within the academy. Increasing specialization and the narrowing of disciplines, some argue, have led to a growing paucity of radical ideas and true critical alternatives while fostering a growing obsession with a mass-media-infused culture. Others on the ideological right maintain that leftist public intellectuals do not pay enough attention to supposed practical needs or market forces and are too protected by and safely ensconced in tenured ivory towers, talking and writing only to themselves and training students to do the same. In seemingly contradictory fashion, other conservatives have contended that leftist intellectuals have too much power and influence on government elites with their hopelessly na´ve and outmoded ideas.
This conference seeks to bring together scholars and researchers in all disciplines whose work focuses on public intellectuals. We hope to engage these issues while moving beyond past debates into new considerations of the role of intellectuals in public life in the 20th and 21st centuries. Paper topics with a historical perspective from all disciplines and all global areas, particularly outside of Europe and North America, are welcome and encouraged. The conference also seeks to provide a forum for self-reflection by public intellectuals in the past and present. The conference format will include individual presentations of 20 minutes each organized into workshops of 3-4 presenters. It will be held in Longfellow Hall in the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Noam Chomsky will be the keynote speaker.
Proposals of 300 words or less must include your identifying information including name, title, institution, email address, and phone number. Please send a copy to John Lenz (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Damon Freeman (email@example.com). The deadline for receipt of all proposals is Friday, November 30, 2012.
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