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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (160 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Louis Menand Narrator: Michael Prichard Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2010 ISBN: 9781400184194
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Has American higher education become a dinosaur? Why do professors all tend to think alike? What makes it so hard for colleges to decide which subjects should be required? Why do teachers and scholars find it so difficult to transcend the limits of their disciplines? Why, in short, are problems that should be easy for universities to solve so intractable? The answer, Louis Menand argues, is that the institutional structure and the educational philosophy of higher education have remained the same for one hundred years, while faculties and student bodies have radically changed, and technology has drastically transformed the way people produce and disseminate knowledge.

Sparking a long-overdue debate about the future of American education, The Marketplace of Ideas examines what professors and students—and all the rest of us—might be better off without while assessing what is worth saving in our traditional university institutions.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Menand…provides a smart, succinct, splendidly written summary of the back story and current state-of-play in education in the liberal arts at the country’s elite institutions.”

    Boston Globe

  • “[Menand] has the rare ability to tackle complex subjects and make them comprehensible and readable.”

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • “Part history of higher education, part sympathetic but insistent argument for change, Menand’s book is a worthy and admirably succinct exploration of why colleges are so difficult to improve.”

    Washington Monthly

  • “Michael Prichard’s stern, sonorous voice is a perfect match for Menand’s critical exploration of the contemporary university.”

    AudioFile

  • “An important…view on the content of higher education.”

    Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Neena | 1/23/2014

    " I was urged to read this before taking another step. Somehow I am still excited to move forward. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alex Bloom | 1/16/2014

    " I guess my expectations were a little too high after having read "The Metaphysical Club." Menand's writing is still brilliant, but the content presented here just wasn't nearly as fascinating as the personalities developed in his earlier work. As always, though, Menand presents insightful and nuanced opinions about complex and divisive subjects. For those interested in the liberal arts in higher education, it's well worth a read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Josh Meares | 1/11/2014

    " Pretty good history of the way things are in academia. Not a lot of insight into what needs to change. Kind of an inside-the-lines sort of thinker. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Villate | 1/2/2014

    " The most interesting parts of this book were the sections on the professions and "interdisciplinarity" (which I run into a lot in my clients' work - it has replaced "post-structualist" as the buzzword du jour in academe) and Part 4 about why professors seem to think the same way. In my work as an editor of dissertations and scholarly articles (with the occasional PhD application essay thrown in there), I hear a lot of horror stories about doctoral candidates forced to stay in their programs for years beyond when they should be finished or just let go from the program. Menand's point about the self-interestedness of departments in keeping ABD's and doctoral candidates going was very well taken, though I disagree that PhDs should be easier to get, having seen the rigor-less pablum that sometimes passes for dissertation research. I have read probably over 100 dissertations in all types of subject matter in the eight years I've been editing professionally, and I would say a good percentage of them (maybe 15-20%) are just trash, but they get passed because the candidate is doing research that his or her advisor is interested in or wants to appropriate for his or her own purposes or that somehow justifies the committee's political or social beliefs. Few solutions are offered, but I think anyone going into a graduate program, whether in the humanities or any of the social or "hard" sciences, would do well to read this little book and think about what he or she hopes to accomplish. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Oliver L. | 1/1/2014

    " The first part of Louis Menand's latest book is a summary of richer and more detailed sources (e.g., John Thelin's excellent overview of the history of higher education). However, the second part--which raises questions about the ideological makeup of the liberal arts professoriate (the real problem, it seems, is that the academy is filled with mainstream liberals and few radicals of any stripe) and the training of graduate students (Menand argues that eight years of benign neglect in a Ph.D. program is a pointless and futile exercise)--is quite compelling. Plenty of other scholars have already made similar claims, but Menand is an excellent and very persuasive writer, and the Marketplace of Ideas is short enough to justify at least a cursory skim from anyone interested in this subject. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katherine Baber | 11/29/2013

    " Nothing earth-shattering here, but useful for younger academics in terms of the history of interdisciplinarity and other current buzzwords and problems in higher ed today. Some really depressing statistics, too. Not really wise to read if you're attempting to finish a doctoral program. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauren | 8/14/2013

    " Confirming what I already knew... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dawn | 6/3/2013

    " I especially enjoyed "Problem of General Education" and why faculty are resistant to change. Also, why in the world does a PhD in Humanities take 11 years???? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Daniel DeLappe | 12/1/2012

    " Great read. Interesting subject. It is part of a collection of books called Issues of our times. Take your time with at 150 pages seemed 300 to get the point. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathleen | 9/6/2012

    " Much of Menand's assessment of the issues in the US university rings true, and yet his proposals for reform strike me as awfully narrow. The book provides interesting food for thought, especially in contextualizing the current situation, but few real avenues for change. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nick Demarest | 11/28/2011

    " This book finally made clear to me the questions I've had about what the study of English is, where postmodernism, deconstructionism, and many of the arts' other anxieties come from. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 2/21/2011

    " I enjoyed reading it, but Menand seems to hold back relative to his usual forceful writing. Pretty much worthless to people outside the academy, I'd guess. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathleen | 11/30/2010

    " Much of Menand's assessment of the issues in the US university rings true, and yet his proposals for reform strike me as awfully narrow. The book provides interesting food for thought, especially in contextualizing the current situation, but few real avenues for change. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 7/12/2010

    " I enjoyed reading it, but Menand seems to hold back relative to his usual forceful writing. Pretty much worthless to people outside the academy, I'd guess. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Daniel | 4/20/2010

    " Great read. Interesting subject. It is part of a collection of books called Issues of our times. Take your time with at 150 pages seemed 300 to get the point. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nick | 4/16/2010

    " This book finally made clear to me the questions I've had about what the study of English is, where postmodernism, deconstructionism, and many of the arts' other anxieties come from. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dawn | 2/27/2010

    " I especially enjoyed "Problem of General Education" and why faculty are resistant to change. Also, why in the world does a PhD in Humanities take 11 years???? "

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About the Author
Author Louis Menand

Louis Menand is most well known for The Metaphysical Club, a detailed history of American intellectual and philosophical life in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It received a Pulitzer Prize in history in 2002 and also received the 2002 Francis Parkman Prize. Menand is currently a staff writer for the New Yorker and a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. He completed his undergraduate work at Pomona and received his PhD from Columbia University in 1980. Currently professor of English and American literature and language at Harvard, he lives between Beacon Hill, Massachusetts, and New York City.