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Harvard Radical (A shift to the right at Harvard?)
NY Times Magazine ^ | 24 August 2003 | JAMES TRAUB

Posted on 08/23/2003 5:28:43 PM PDT by shrinkermd

Summers wants Harvard to regard itself as a single sovereign entity rather than as an archipelago of loosely affiliated institutions. He wants to change the undergraduate curriculum so that students focus less on ''ways of knowing'' and more on actual knowledge. He wants to raise quantitative kinds of knowledge to something like parity with traditionally humanistic kinds of knowledge. He wants to make the university more directly engaged with problems in education and public health, and he wants the professions that deal with those problems to achieve the same status as the more lordly ones of law, business and medicine. And he wants to assert certain traditional verities, or rather open an intellectual space in which such verities can at least be posited. ''The idea that we should be open to all ideas,'' he said when I saw him in mid-July, ''is very different from the supposition that all ideas are equally valid.''

Summers insists that he does not aspire to the role of public sage that presidents of Ivy League universities occupied until about 50 years ago. But it is simply a fact that by virtue of occupying the most commanding heights of the culture, Harvard has traditionally exercised enormous influence. If undergrad inorganic chemistry is now going to be taken to be as much a staple as political philosophy at Harvard, then your children may be more scientifically literate (and less philosophically literate) than you are.

Even if Summers were a guileful and calculating figure with a hidden agenda of drastic change, he would have a tough row to hoe. But he's not: he's a blunt and overbearing figure with an overt agenda of drastic change. It should come as no surprise that Larry Summers is not quite as popular a figure as his gracious predecessor was. One of Summers's oldest friends on the faculty said to me: ''There are a lot of people on other parts of the campus I've met who just despise him. The level of the intensity of their dislike for him is just shocking.''

I met professors who so thoroughly loathe the new president that they refuse even to grant his intelligence, perhaps because doing so would confer upon him a virtue treasured at Harvard. Despite the protections of tenure, virtually all of Summers's critics were too afraid of him to be willing to be quoted by name. It's not easy to imagine Summers winning these people over. Of course, he may not have to. Harvard's greatest presidents have been an exceptionally cold and nasty lot. One of them, Charles W. Eliot, once said that the most important attribute of a college president is the capacity to inflict pain.

As a very young Harvard economics professor, Summers was the kind of teacher who would hang around after class and talk to his students forever, and it's obvious that he still genuinely enjoys mixing it up with the kids, who tend to be an awful lot more forthright than the average tenured professor. One evening last spring, I sat in the junior common room at Dunster House, a Harvard dorm, while Summers chatted with 60 or so undergraduates. The president was wearing a rust-colored sweater whose fit was a good deal more snug than a man of his considerable bulk would normally consider flattering: many a late-night pizza had gone to forming that waistline. A student named Brad, a senior economics major, raised his hand and asked Summers if he considered it fair that certain feminist killjoys had demolished the nine-foot-high Snow Penis, which anonymous sculptors -- members of the crew team, it turned out -- had reared in Harvard Yard.

A more prudent university president might have ducked this First Amendment snowball. But not Larry Summers. He slid off the table he was perched on and advanced toward Brad with a calculating expression he must have turned on dozens of hapless opponents back in his days on the M.I.T. debate squad.

''If somebody had carved into the snow letters saying 'Kill the nigger,''' he said, ''would it be your point that this constituted artistic expression, and so it would be inappropriate for other people to scuff up the work?'' Summers has a distinctive way of talking: he backs and fills, stretching out words and repeating phrases as he slots in new subclauses or contemplates alternative analogies. The effect is simultaneously leisurely and predatory -- a bit like William F. Buckley's rhetorical strategies. Brad, who hadn't realized that he had booked an appearance on ''Firing Line,'' said no, but yes, more or less. ''So,'' Summers said with a final slash of the epee, ''how do you distinguish them?''

Summers dilated, amplified and controverted his way through the next several hours. The half-dozen or so students I spoke to afterward were delighted with his combative manner and concluded that he had taken them seriously enough to find their claims worth contradicting. In general, I found that with the exception of the ideologically driven, almost every student who has actually had contact with Summers has come away liking him. Summers's indifference to propriety was bracing for students wearily accustomed to the agonized sensitivity that has more or less become semiofficial campus culture.

Summers was not hired with a mandate to take on the institution or its culture. But by the time Rudenstine announced that he would leave, the seven members of the Harvard Corporation, which controls the process of succession, decided that the next president would have to take greater command of the university. Over the years, Harvard had assembled 260 acres across the Charles River in the town of Allston -- a tract as large as the entire existing institution. The next president had the mind-boggling opportunity to double the size of Harvard and perhaps also to remap its intellectual life in a new era of interdisciplinary activity. And thanks to Rudenstine's fund-raising talents, Harvard had a $18.3 billion endowment with which to help finance the move. Unfortunately, none of the principal candidates for moving -- the law school, the sciences or a mix of housing and museums -- were eager to leave the confines of Harvard Yard. Rudenstine had made it clear that he would move no one against his will. Clearly, this would not do. And so, as Daniel, a corporation member, told me, ''We agreed that we needed somebody more aggressive, more pushy, bolder.''

Summers was an impressive candidate from the outset. ''What we saw,'' said Hanna Holborn Gray, the former president of the University of Chicago and a member of the corporation and its search committee, ''was a powerful intellect and understanding of the university and a university's mission and purpose and a tremendous taste for excellence.'' Summers was going through a divorce. (His ex-wife now lives in Washington with their 13-year-old twin daughters and 10-year-old son.) That was not a problem. But Summers's temperament was troubling to some members of the corporation. The word from Washington was that he could be peremptory, condescending, impatient with lesser mortals. He had, as Robert Rubin, Summers's mentor and predecessor as treasury secretary, delicately put it, ''a rough-edges issue.'' Rubin says that he spoke to members of the committee on four or five occasions. He assured them that Summers had matured a great deal in his years with Treasury. Still, the committee was torn until the final weeks -- even days -- between Summers and Lee Bollinger, then president of the University of Michigan, a candidate who seemed more polished and politic than Summers. (Bollinger is now president of Columbia.) In the end, the wish for boldness won out over apprehensions of abrasiveness.

The tactically sound approach to the-institution-that-considers-itself-matchless is first to demonstrate that you share its values and only then to begin pointing out that it could do a better job of living by them. That's what, say, Robert Rubin would do. But Summers always takes the shortest distance between two points. In July 2001, four months after his appointment was announced around the time he assumed office, Summers somewhat reluctantly agreed to meet with seven or eight of Harvard's leading black scholars. Under Rudenstine's extremely lavish care, Harvard had assembled far and away the most distinguished Afro-American studies department in the country. Black scholars feared that the notoriously hardheaded Summers would be far less assiduous than Rudenstine had been. At the meeting, Charles Ogletree, a law-school professor, pressed Summers to spell out his views on affirmative action. Rudenstine had been a zealous advocate of affirmative action, and it was perfectly obvious that Summers had only to say a few magic words and all would be well.

According to one participant at the meeting, Summers replied to Ogletree: ''The jury's out. I want to make up my own mind.'' Word soon got around that Summers opposed affirmative action and that he was critical of ''The Shape of the River,'' the pro-affirmative-action tract that Rudenstine's predecessor, Derek Bok, was co-author of. (Summers says that he had only criticized the book's methodology.)

Summers is an intuitive meritocrat, and he has many misgivings about affirmative action, though he will now discuss them with candor only off the record. But he also says that Harvard has gotten affirmative action right, and he said so in an amicus brief that Harvard submitted to the Supreme Court in the recent case involving the University of Michigan. He could have said as much to Ogletree. Why didn't he? ''I don't do litmus tests,'' Summers told me. He was modeling a new ethic for campus discourse. Or possibly he just spoke without thinking hard enough about it. The net effect was that his relations with Harvard's black community got off to an extremely inauspicious start. Ultimately, they would get quite a bit worse.

Summers took the same blunderbuss to the equally delicate issue of the university's traditional division of powers. Harvard is a very odd organization -- more like the United Nations, with its semiautonomous agencies, than like a classic university. Each of the graduate schools raises its own money and sets its own budget; so does the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The president and his bureaucratic apparatus, which occupy a building of their own, are known collectively as ''the center.'' The president appoints the deans, but then the deans run their schools. This system of ancient lineage is described at Harvard by the quaint maritime metaphor ''every tub on its own bottom.'' In an earlier day, when the faculty was small and weak, the president could exercise tremendous authority despite the tub system. But now, at Harvard, as at other elite universities, it is the faculty that essentially ''owns'' the institutions; faculty members are its permanent citizens and the incarnation of its central purpose.

Summers made it clear from the outset that the balance of power at Harvard would shift toward the center. He and his provost, Steven Hyman, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, established a process whereby each professional school drew up a highly detailed document listing academic and budgetary plans for the short and long terms and then sent out a squad of vice presidents to pore over the studies with the schools' deans for three hours. Armed with numbers, Summers went to battle -- for example, making it clear to Joseph Nye, dean of the Kennedy School of Government, that he would have to stop running a deficit.

But Summers's most notorious power struggle came with the law school, and it wasn't over budget lines. Summers had identified Harvard Law as the one school most in need of presidential supervision, for despite its magisterial reputation it had been losing both students and scholars to other institutions. When Robert Clark, the school's longtime dean, agreed to step down, the faculty decided to appoint a committee to seek a successor. This was a transparent power play, for the appointment of a dean is arguably the most important power reserved to the president. The day the committee was to be established, Summers went to the law school and spoke to the entire faculty. According to one professor, Summers said flatly, ''The president is charged with sole responsibility to appoint a dean.''

The meeting degenerated into a series of angry exchanges. One veteran professor I spoke to denounced Summers as ''a control freak'' and mocked Summers's hierarchical ''Washington'' style. ''He doesn't give a damn what anybody thinks,'' said another professor. And Summers managed to make things worse by unintended acts of boorishness. He told a junior member of the law-school faculty that a question she had asked was dumb; surprised to hear later that the young woman was offended, he apologized grudgingly.

And yet Summers ultimately did what was widely perceived as the right thing. The search committee he appointed was respected within the law school. And Elena Kagan, a former Clinton administration official and recent arrival at the law school, whom he chose as dean (ultimately, the search committee was window dressing), was the one member of the faculty acceptable to virtually all parties. When I saw Summers recently, he said that not only the selection of Kagan but also the process of selecting her had led to a ''clearing of the air.''

This may be true. Martha Minow, a highly regarded member of the law-school faculty and one of the Summers skeptics, told me that the choice of Kagan showed that Summers had read the mood of the faculty very carefully. ''There's an extraordinary feeling of a new beginning at the law school right now,'' she said. Minow had also just come from listening to Summers address a conference on affirmative action, where he had delivered an endorsement of the process with which he had been grappling. That was a surprise. ''He is moved,'' Minow said, ''by powerful intellectual arguments.''

You have to wonder why Summers couldn't have placated the faculty in advance. Is ''no placating'' a new principle to be enshrined alongside ''no litmus tests''? One administrator said that during the previous search, 14 years earlier: ''Derek Bok said, 'I'll appoint the committee' -- and then he appointed the same people the faculty wanted. Larry could have said, 'Here's my committee' and then disarmed them.'' But Summers's attitude, according to the administrator, was: '''I'm not going to let them do that.' He does the right thing, but he doesn't take advantage of it.'' Perhaps the principle is ''I'm not going to make it easy.''

And it won't be easy, because the power struggles aren't over yet. Summers has announced that he will extend the tenure review process. Previously, the university president's power to review -- and perhaps veto -- tenure decisions applied to only the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and a few other schools. The law school, which has made a series of what Summers calls ''idiosyncratic choices'' in the awarding of tenure, has put up the most resistance to this extension of presidential power. Summers has already trampled on several proposed appointments to the college, which of course only increases apprehension elsewhere. Minow said, ''I think a lot of people think it's a bad idea,'' though she personally is waiting to see whether Summers exercises the judiciousness and restraint he has promised. She and her colleagues may also not agree that they have accepted, as Summers told me they have, ''some of the concerns about inbredness, political correctness, lack of intellectual energy that were seen on the outside.'' And they may not view the fact that he said so as a token of judiciousness and restraint.

Larry Summers is not just an economist but, as one of his critics put it, an economist economist. His friend Andrei Shleifer, also an economist, put it more diplomatically: ''It's fair to say that he's into facts.'' Almost all of Summers's friends are economists or policy types (though he is currently dating a Harvard English professor, Elisa New); he does not read serious fiction; he shows few signs of aesthetic sensitivity; he is a slovenly dresser and not a terribly tidy eater. Summers may well have the densest collection of economist genes of any man alive. Both of his parents are economists. And Paul Samuelson, his father's brother, and Kenneth Arrow, his mother's brother, each won a Nobel Prize for economics. In one of our earliest conversations, I asked Summers if he thought that his distinctive habits of mind came from his upbringing. Summers does not find his own background a terribly interesting subject, and the question struck him as overly deterministic, but he did recall that if the family -- he has two brothers -- was stuck in traffic, one of his parents might ask, ''If there was one more lane, would that eliminate the traffic jam or simply increase the number of drivers who used the road?'' One of the Summers-haters told me he had heard that the family rated sunsets, but Summers said that that was a game his father played with Summers's children (no doubt fostering a third generation of economists).

Both of Summers's parents taught at the University of Pennsylvania, and he grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He appears to have been a garden-variety nerd, a math whiz who loved to play with numbers, though he says that he cared about current events and politics in a way that the other math dweebs did not. Summers enrolled at M.I.T. planning to study math or physics but soon found that the school was full of people better at math than he was. It was then that he transferred to economics, a field that, he said, ''enabled me to combine the analytical approach that I found very interesting with relevance to the problems of the world.'' M.I.T. had many of the world's greatest economists, including Paul Samuelson, who had built the department. It was also a place where economics was practiced as a highly analytical, data-driven profession. Summers graduated in 1975, earned his Ph.D. from Harvard and then returned to M.I.T. as an assistant professor.

''Those were very happy years,'' Summers said. If he weren't so ambitious, Summers could have been blissfully happy as a Cambridge lifer. Back in those glory years, all the hotshots from Harvard and M.I.T. hung out at the National Bureau of Economic Research (N.B.E.R.) in Cambridge, whose president was the Harvard economist and former Nixon administration official Martin Feldstein. Feldstein became Summers's mentor. Summers's crowd would work through the night on knotty problems, taking a break at the Harvard House of Pizza. Lawrence Katz, an economics professor at Harvard and a longtime friend, said: ''Larry was a hive of activity. The best graduate students were always working with him. What was amazing was the breadth of his activity -- he could work on 20 problems with 20 different people.'' Summers's name appears on 77 N.B.E.R. working papers from the 1980's, usually with two or three other authors. He was considered a great person to collaborate with, generous and indefatigable.

In 1983, Summers moved to Harvard, becoming, at age 28, what was then the youngest faculty member in the history of the university to be granted tenure. Summers's great achievement as an economist was to use data to upend settled theories -- the theory, for example, that unemployment was a ''natural'' and short-term phenomenon to be treated with minor adjustments; or the theory that asset prices fundamentally reflected rational judgments by investors. But he was also a daring theorizer who preferred the big, brazen formulation to the modest one. In 1993, he cemented his reputation as a Wunderkind by winning the John Bates Clark Medal given annually to economists under 40; he had done almost all the work cited by his early 30's.

Economics is one of the few academic fields in which you can go straight into the world of policy and politics if you are so inclined. Summers was so inclined. In 1988, he worked as a part-time adviser to Michael Dukakis's presidential campaign. In 1991, he took a two-year leave of absence to become chief economist at the World Bank. His work there generally received very positive reviews, but his reputation was not helped by the leaking of one of his memos. ''I've always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly underpolluted,'' Summers wrote. He suggested that the World Bank encourage ''more migration of the dirty industries'' to less developed nations. The memo made Summers sound like the Dr. Strangelove of economics and earned him a very frosty relationship for several years with Vice President Al Gore, who may have never before encountered the term ''underpolluted.'' (Summers says that the memo was written by a subordinate, though he has always accepted blame for the language.)

Summers's position as an international civil servant precluded him from working on Bill Clinton's presidential campaign, as many of his Dukakis friends were doing, but he was desperate to be in the game. Summers spoke constantly about economic issues to his contacts in the campaign and suggested other economists for explicit policy advice. When Clinton won, Summers joined the transition team, hoping for a big job.

But Summers still bore strong traces of the Harvard House of Pizza. As Gene Sperling, a member of Clinton's National Economic Council and Summers's closest contact in the White House, put it, ''Here was a guy with a big brain, and you want him on your team, but there was a sense that you needed to have a grown-up around.'' Summers was hoping to be named chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, but when he lost out he accepted the post of under secretary of the treasury for international affairs, where he would be surrounded by grown-ups. Nevertheless, the big brain stood Summers in good stead. He quickly gained a reputation as a master explainer -- the man who could lay out the macroeconomic consequences of any given change in tax policy, who could figure out in his head what effect it would have on the gross domestic product 10 years down the road.

In 1995, Robert Rubin became treasury secretary, and Rubin came increasingly to rely on Summers not only for economics but also for policy advice. ''Larry had an almost academic sense of purpose,'' Rubin said, ''but not an academic naivete.'' Rubin says that Summers understood how to market highly abstract policy in a way that would resonate with ordinary people. It also turned out that Summers could be a fine tactician, and even something of a diplomat, much to the surprise of White House officials. Summers played a leading role in the controversial bailout of Mexico in 1995, as well as in handling the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and 1998. Most people who worked for Summers at the time have only good things to say about him now. Stuart E. Eizenstat, who served as a deputy when Summers took over from Rubin in 1999, says that he never encountered the Summers of legend and lore. ''He was a prince to work for,'' Eizenstat told me. ''He was considerate of my views, he included me on all major decisions, he did not make snap judgments, he fought through decisions, he gave me a wide swath of jurisdictions.'' Several noneconomists who worked either for or with Summers said that he never condescended to them and that they always felt he was arguing in order to get to the merits. Washington is, of course, a place with a uniquely high tolerance for brusque behavior.

It is a truism among Summers's friends and colleagues that he ''grew'' during his years in the Clinton administration. Summers concedes the point, but only after converting it into a sort of utility equation: ''Over time, I came to see that mutual interest was often a more important catalyst to agreement than compelling logic.'' What is striking, and a little bit touching, is how very self-conscious this process was. With the model of Rubin ever before him, Gene Sperling recalled: ''Larry started really consciously working on the kinder, gentler Larry Summers. We talked about it all the time for years and years. It was not unusual for Larry to call and say, 'You think I was too abrupt at this meeting?' And I'd say, 'Yeah.' We'd talk about what to do.'' And so Summers rounded off his rough edges. It is a source of genuine wonderment to people at Harvard that the Larry Summers they are seeing is the sanded-down one.

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks took place soon after Summers took office and inflected his presidency in ways that could scarcely have been anticipated. While much of the university world took the view that the United States must in some important way have been responsible for the attacks, Summers says that he felt called to speak up for patriotic values. At a speech at the Kennedy School in late October, he chided the school's dean for failing to include a uniformed officer among those the school was honoring for public service. ''There are still many people who, when they think of police, think too quickly of Chicago in 1968 and too slowly of the people who risk their lives every day to keep streets safe in America's major cities,'' Summers told his audience. He seemed to be lecturing his own university and kindred institutions in public. In the ensuing months, Summers tried to raise the status of the R.O.T.C. on campus: he demanded the reversal of a policy that had prevented students from listing R.O.T.C. service in the yearbook and made a point of addressing the R.O.T.C. graduation ceremony at the end of the year. And then last September, he threw down another ideological gauntlet when he claimed, in a speech that was front-page news all over the country, that ''serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.'' And he did not shy from observing that this group included scholars at Harvard and elsewhere who had called on Harvard to divest its portfolio of companies that did business in Israel.

Between patriotism, R.O.T.C., anti-anti-Semitism and much hard talk about grade inflation, Summers quickly gained a reputation as the spokesman for mainstream values as against the consensual leftism of the elite campus. The conservative Weekly Standard called him its ''favorite university president,'' while The Wall Street Journal editorial page spoke in similarly glowing terms -- not a form of adulation normally considered desirable for Ivy League presidents. It was really an astounding situation: the equivalent of Alan Greenspan taking on corporate malfeasance. Summers seemed to have embarked on a crusade for which many people -- and not only conservatives -- had long been waiting. Indeed, one of Summers's oldest friends at Harvard, the economist Dale Jorgenson, said that Summers ''feels that universities in general have forgotten that they're part of the nation'' and wants to restore a sense of ''moral clarity'' to campus discourse.

Summers himself bridles at the suggestion that he is trying to speak against the grain of the institution he leads or to somehow bring it to heel. He declines the title of ''cultural conservative,'' not only because it would get him into a lot of trouble but also because, he said, those who march under that banner tend to ''have views about the one right way, which tends to be a white European male way.'' Summers really is not that kind of ideologue; it is rather that he is an unabashedly mainstream figure in a highly progressive culture. And the discomfort he causes has not persuaded him to stop. In the spring of 2002, he attended a discussion about globalization with the faculty of the Graduate School of Education. ''They were going in the direction that globalization pointed to the need for more education directed at multicultural understanding,'' he said. ''And I said that I thought globalization meant global competition, and that it made the basic capacity to read and do arithmetic more important.'' I asked Summers what the response had been. ''It was,'' he said dryly, ''seen as a distinctive perspective.''

People inside Harvard are less preoccupied with Summers's musings on the Kulturkampf than they are with his plans to reshape the undergraduate curriculum. Harvard has been revisiting its curriculum every few decades since the late 19th century, when its president, Charles W. Eliot, added electives to what had been a rigidly defined program, thus changing the nature of undergraduate study throughout the country. The most recent stage of this evolution came in 1978, when Harvard adopted a ''core'' of courses in fields of inquiry that spanned domains, including historical study, moral reasoning, social analysis, science, music and art, literature and so on. These courses are designed to introduce ''approaches to knowledge'' rather than specific information and thus legitimized a trend throughout education toward ways of knowing rather than knowledge. As recently as the mid-1990's, a faculty-student committee decided that the core was just fine; Summers insisted that it was not.

Summers's views about the curriculum have something to do with the nature of knowledge -- and something to do with Harvard. In his conversations with students, he has heard a complaint that Harvard students have been making forever, to no effect: they have no contact with senior faculty members, especially outside of the sciences. The titans who have come to rest at Harvard generally consider undergraduates beneath their dignity, and this, in turn, fosters something of a culture of intimidation. One student I spoke to said dreamily that at Wellesley, or so she had heard, ''they go and have dinner with professors.'' Summers would like to make the Harvard experience a little more like his economics classes. This is the kind of gradual culture change that cannot simply be imposed, which is to say that it does not play into Summers's talents. He has, however, expanded a program of ''freshman seminars,'' small classes taught by leading members of the faculty.

The fundamental reason Summers wants to change the undergraduate curriculum is that, as he explains, the nature of knowledge has changed so radically. Summers often says that one of the two most important phenomena of the last quarter-century is the revolution in the biological sciences. And yet, as he also often says, while it is socially unacceptable at an elite university to admit that you haven't read a Shakespeare play, no stigma at all attaches to not knowing the difference between a gene and a chromosome or the meaning of exponential growth. Summers compares this ignorance to the provinciality of never having traveled abroad. He wants every student to live in science for a while and not just to do some sightseeing in a course designed to help you ''think like a biologist.'' Summers is not categorically opposed to the ''ways of thinking'' approach. ''The hard question,'' he said, ''is the line between learning a lot of science in one area and surveying more broadly but less deeply and thus less close to the genuine professional enterprise.''

But the intellectual revolution that Summers says he hopes to capture in the new curriculum is not limited to science itself. ''More and more areas of thought have become susceptible to progress,'' he said, ''susceptible to the posing of questions, the looking at the world and trying to find answers, the coming to views that represent closer approximations of the truth.'' Tools of measurement have become ubiquitous, as well as extraordinarily refined. Archaeology, Summers observed, ''was at one stage kind of a 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' operation. Now we're hiring a chemist who can figure out diet from fingernail clippings.''

Political scientists are using computer modeling to make comparative studies; mathematicians analyze the pattern of change in the AIDS virus to explain why the interval between infection and sickness is so long. The great universities have traditionally defined themselves as humanistic rather than scientific institutions. Summers's point is not so much that the balance should shift as that the distinctions between these modes of understanding have blurred, though clearly in a way that favors the analytic domains -- the soft has become harder, rather than the other way around.

Most faculty members at Harvard worry much more about this hard-soft spectrum than they do about the left-right one. ''By training and temperament, economists are intellectual imperialists,'' said the political theorist Michael Sandel. ''They believe their models of rational choice can explain all human behavior.'' Summers has, in fact, driven a wedge through the government department by appearing to favor rational-choice theorists over more traditional political scientists. ''The question,'' Sandel said, ''is whether Larry can rise above this prejudice and develop the broader intellectual sympathies he needs to be a great Harvard president.'' It is quite possible that just as Charles W. Eliot came to be seen as the man who brought the range of modern knowledge into the traditional university, so Summers will be seen as the man who decisively moved those universities toward increasingly analytical, data-driven ways of knowing.

In a way, Summers wants to move Harvard simultaneously into the vanguard and the rearguard. He wants Harvard to be at the forefront of cutting-edge research; he is very proud of a genomics institute that Harvard has formed in collaboration with M.I.T., which will cost $300 million over 10 years. At the same time, he is an intellectual traditionalist. He would like to bring back the old art-history survey course, though of course in less Eurocentric form. He says he believes in what he calls ''the aspiration of systematizing and presenting to students areas of human thought,'' which is more or less what Harvard's old general education system accomplished until it was replaced by the core. He said, with a nervous laugh -- he knew he was treading on thin ice -- ''It is more important for students to have a basic understanding of literature than of the current fashions in literary theory.'' All things considered, he said, ''I'd like to see us emphasize more knowing.''

And yet Summers's intellectual politics cannot be captured quite so straightforwardly as that. The other tectonic event of the last quarter-century, in his view, is not scientific but sociological and moral -- the coming together, for good and ill, of rich and poor societies. Summers is vaguer about Harvard's, and higher education's, role in this regard, but he is very clear that universities must have a sense of moral mission. He argues that ''Harvard must do something to reduce the racial gap'' in test scores that makes affirmative action necessary, and he says he hopes to move the School of Education toward a closer engagement with the Boston public schools. He talks a great deal about raising the status and increasing the resources of the School of Public Health, the School of Education, the Kennedy School of Government and the divinity school, which are sometimes collectively referred to as ''the baby schools.'' He points out that it is precisely because those schools have public missions that their graduates do not earn much money and therefore cannot keep the schools richly endowed. Making those schools ''central to the life of the university,'' Summers said, ''is probably the most important way that we can magnify the university's contribution to addressing the pressing problems of the world.''

Summers also seems to have reached a decision about the new campus at Allston that is consistent with his vision of Harvard. The question of Allston is the question of what Harvard should be like in 20, 30, even 50 years. What is it that needs to be bigger? What needs to be next to what? Does proximity even matter? Soon after arriving, Summers concluded that Allston should serve as the home either of the professional schools, and above all the law school, or of the sciences. The law school devoted tremendous time and resources to demonstrating that moving it would be a catastrophic mistake. The various science faculties were more open to a move, if extremely wary. Summers says he will announce his decision in the fall, but according to several sources, he has in fact already essentially chosen to move the sciences (as well as some other facilities) to Allston -- a decision that will make an important statement about the future of the university. Summers will then have to make a series of incredibly complicated decisions, which boil down to: Which sciences will go, and where? The kind of research being done in the biological sciences is practically indistinguishable from the work done at the medical school. How can one go and the other stay? Psychology and neuroscience are increasingly connected. Don't they have to be near each other? This is, fortunately, a very Larry Summers kind of problem. He has, as Jeremy Knowles, former dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences elegantly put it, ''a marvelously deconvoluting mind.''

Larry Summers defined himself, in the mind of the public and to a lesser extent inside Harvard, through his very public, and very ugly, imbroglio early last year with Cornel West, the philosopher and sometime media star. Summers never intended to define himself that way, but now it is one of those things he has to dig himself out of, like becoming a hero to The Weekly Standard. (It was the tangle with West, more than anything else, that made him into a darling of the right in the first place.) Summers's testy exchange with the university's leading black scholars the previous summer constituted only one element of the background to l'affaire West. Neil Rudenstine had allowed the Afro-American studies department to live by its own rules and to practically formulate its own budget. Summers made it plain to Henry Louis Gates Jr., the chairman and builder of the Afro-American studies department, that henceforward the department would be subject to ''the same kind of standards and expectations,'' as he puts it, that applied to the rest of the university.

West appeared to be the living incarnation of those separate standards. He had been named one of Harvard's 17 ''university professors'' despite a modest record of academic achievement. More recently, he had become a political publicist, a media star, a professional spellbinder whose most recent ''work'' was a spoken-word CD. He was rumored to have missed classes to campaign for Bill Bradley and to have distributed A's with an abandon exceptional even at Harvard, where the average grade hovers between B+ and A-. Summers took these stories very seriously, and at a meeting with Gates at the beginning of the school year, he presented the entire litany. Gates, horrified, fired off a two-page single-spaced letter refuting the allegations.

Nevertheless, in a conversation with West in mid-October 2001, Summers, according to West's reported version of the events, repeated those allegations, chastised him for making the CD and vowed to monitor his work through regular meetings in the future. Summers has, until now, refused to offer his side of the conversation, and when I first asked him he declined once again. But when I said I understood that he had accused West of missing three weeks' worth of classes, Summers flared up in a very uncharacteristic way. ''That's absolutely, categorically not true,'' he shot back. ''I did say there were various kinds of rumors about attending classes, and that I had no idea whether they were true or whether they weren't, and that what happened in the past didn't matter anyway, but what was obviously important was the primary obligation to the university and to meeting classes.''

Summers seems to marvel at the hypersensitivity required to mistake such an innocuous observation for criticism. It's very possible that were he in West's shoes he would have simply said, ''The rumors are false'' and left it at that. Summers added that the allegation about ''monitoring'' was also ''absolutely, categorically false.''

West himself may have been so upset that he took away an inflamed version of the actual conversation. (West failed to return numerous telephone calls seeking comment.) He may also have had trouble understanding that Summers didn't intend to insult him but to let him know that a new day had dawned. Summers, on the other hand, was probably thinking about academic standards, about citizenship to the university, about grade inflation, about scotching the therapeutic dimension of ethnic studies -- about everything, in short, save West himself. He was demonstrating yet again his remarkable inability to recognize the subjectivity of others. It turns out that you can emulate Robert Rubin without internalizing him.

What was left, of course, was a mess. When the news broke in December, Summers was forced to issue an apologetic defense of affirmative action. West announced that he was leaving for Princeton, as did K. Anthony Appiah, a widely admired philosopher (who had personal reasons for leaving independent of Summers). Gates came within a hair of joining them, agreeing to stay only after an entreaty from the editors of the student newspaper, as well as others from Vernon E. Jordan Jr., former president of the United Negro College Fund, and Summers himself. Harvard came very close to losing one of its most celebrated departments, and Summers earned the enmity of much of Harvard's black community.

And yet Summers, true to his nature, has learned. He now praises Gates at every turn and has established a real relationship with him. He has agreed to rebuild the department through extensive hiring, and he and Gates have spoken about increasing its social-science orientation and thus making it more focused on the public good. And Gates is just the kind of worldly, ambitious, tough-minded academic who has no trouble seeing Summers's virtues. ''Larry sees the whole field,'' Gates said to me. ''He's not intimidated by the job. He's tremendously self-confident intellectually. He's going to make a great president.''

The average tenure of a Harvard president over the last century and a half has been a little more than 20 years. Summers will probably stay at Harvard a long time. And yet it's hard to see how he can lead the institution if so many of its essential citizens feel he doesn't share their values. After we had spent many hours together, I told him that I had been surprised by how intensely people disliked him. Summers was sitting in a tan leather armchair in his office, his foot up on a coffee table so that I could see the hole in his shoe. He thought for a second, then he started to talk about how people naturally resist change. Yes, I said, feeling a bit uncomfortable, but it's you they don't like. He looked a little taken aback -- that was a first -- and he said quietly, ''I'm sorry to hear that.'' But actually, he wasn't too sorry. ''I have an aggressive and challenging approach,'' he said with one of those quick, embarrassed smiles he sometimes shoots into the middle of a sentence, reminding you of the inner adolescent. ''And it may be there are times I have done that in a way that people haven't felt respected. That's certainly never been my intent.'' On the other hand, he said, ''I don't think of leadership as a popularity contest.''

James Traub is a contributing writer for the magazine.

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TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: academe; academia; harvard; larrysummers; lawrencesummers; summers
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This lengthy article probably is of little interest to most; however, it describes a change in emphasis that is sure to drive academia back from the liberal, post-modern brink to an inductively based curriculum and purpose. I think this man is about to become as important as James Bryant Conant.

While not mentioned in the article Conant, the President of Harvard University from 33-53 almost by himself changed Harvard, and eventually all the Ivy League Schools. He did this by first awarding scholarships on the basis of SAT scores and, eventually, for all admissions. This meritocracy approach was never publicly debated or submitted to prior journalistic scrutiny. It did change America. Incidentally, after Sputnk it was Conant’s recommendation to the Eisenhower Administration that the most able grammar and high school students (on the basis of testing and grades) receive more mathematics and science. Again, no real debate and, again, this changed America until the great egalitarian effort beginning in the late 60’s and early 70’s tried to diminish the importance of academic ability and achievement.

I know this is a conservative forum and I am a conservative, but broad social changes and a shift to the right sometimes occur without a conservative revolution. Witness the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II Administrations plus our now Republican Congress. We may take comfort in this shift to the right, but what we have is “big government conservatism” or the synonymous “compassionate conservatism.” I believe we are about to see a similar change in academia and have, therefore, highlighted some of the recommendations of Summers. As you can see, they run counter to the deeply held, deductively based liberal theological beliefs that have held sway since the early 60’s.

1 posted on 08/23/2003 5:28:44 PM PDT by shrinkermd
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To: shrinkermd
Was just perusing this article in the print NYT Sunday Mag. You can always tell one of their enemies by the unflattering cover photo. There may be hope in academia after all.

BTW, the title on the cover reads:

Harvard's president, Lawrence Summers, making trouble.

Gotta love it!

2 posted on 08/23/2003 5:35:45 PM PDT by LisaFab (Free Miguel Estrada!)
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To: shrinkermd
You'll excuse me if I don't share your optimism about Harvard and Summers. I know he thinks he'll be there a long time....but we shall see if he is still there at the end of this decade. I'll try to look you up then, so we can revisit the matter!
3 posted on 08/23/2003 5:39:07 PM PDT by anniegetyourgun
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To: shrinkermd
The president was wearing a rust-colored sweater whose fit was a good deal more snug than a man of his considerable bulk would normally consider flattering: many a late-night pizza had gone to forming that waistline.

Hey Traub, how about making an intelligent case, you POT! The NY Times at its sub-literate best!

4 posted on 08/23/2003 5:44:36 PM PDT by AlbionGirl (A kite flies highest against the wind, not with it. - Winston Churchill)
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To: shrinkermd
Very interesting, thanks.
5 posted on 08/23/2003 5:49:48 PM PDT by mlo
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To: shrinkermd
"Summers has a distinctive way of talking: he backs and fills, stretching out words and repeating phrases..."

I remember when he took over after Jamie Rubin. Rubin was always a little too slick, rather fox-like (or maybe weasel-like) for me. Summers, on the other hand, was sort of a big, lumpy pile of wrinkled suit with the strangest way of speaking! Somewhat like he ended every sentence in a questioning tone; also, sometimes a little cough/choke in his voice. I did NOT realize he was so intelligent; I wonder what his agenda is.
6 posted on 08/23/2003 6:09:42 PM PDT by Maria S ("..I think the Americans are serious. Bush is not like Clinton. I think this is the end" Uday H.)
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To: shrinkermd
You make interesting comments. If Summers actually said this "He wants to change the undergraduate curriculum so that students focus less on ''ways of knowing'' and more on actual knowledge. then I didn't see it quoted in the article.

Nevertheless, Freepers would be interested in the following (lost) battle that occurred yesterday in my history department at the U. of Dayton: we have had a standard requirement for all students to take one semester's worth of Western Civ, either up to 1713 or since. Naturally, those who don't teach European history were always opposed to this; but surprisingly they found willing allies in the rest of the faculty, who voted 15-1 to change the "Western Civ" requirement to a "global studies" requirement of ANY 200 year period in ANY area of the world. (Guess who the one was who opposed this change?)

During the discussion, not once, but many times, the faculty reiterated that they don't want to teach "content." "Students don't remember that anyway," was their excuse. Instead, they want to teach "themes," such as "oppression" or "economic expansion." (As if you can do this without a content base to begin with!)

This Harvard article is particularly interesting because in our meeting others would constantly use the phrase that "everyone" was going to the new "global studies" curriculum and we were "lagging behind." I retorted that we were not lagging, WE WERE LEADING!

7 posted on 08/23/2003 6:16:07 PM PDT by LS
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To: LS
"You make interesting comments. If Summers actually said this "He wants to change the undergraduate curriculum so that students focus less on ''ways of knowing'' and more on actual knowledge. then I didn't see it quoted in the article

The second sentence in the article says this. I don't know whether this is an inference by the author or a quote of Summer's.

8 posted on 08/23/2003 6:24:30 PM PDT by shrinkermd (i)
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To: shrinkermd
An interesting article. I have a graduate degree from Harvard and was unenthusiastic about the appointment of a reputedly obnoxious, Clintonoid, liberal whose occasional appearances on Fox News Sunday had not impressed me. I began to see him in a little better light after the Cornell West episode. Summers is probably the best that Harvard can do under the circumstances.

By the way, I believe that Harvard ROTC students still have to go over to MIT to train - even though Summers has raised them from the status of non-people.

9 posted on 08/23/2003 6:27:31 PM PDT by Malesherbes
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To: shrinkermd; Torie
Great article.

OK....though Summers is no Milton Freidman, he is as far right as could be hoped for in a Harvard Man.

He reminds me of our own Torie.....someone who can look at options and is not afraid to take the "conservative" path if logic and/or compelling evidence tells him that it is the proper course.

10 posted on 08/23/2003 6:38:16 PM PDT by eddie willers
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To: shrinkermd
"I believe we are about to see a similar change in academia and have, therefore, highlighted some of the recommendations of Summers."

I tend to agree with you. Some of Summers' actions (and non-actions) have been surprisingly (and pleasantly) counter to liberal theology. This NYT article tends to soft pedal his impact, but I believe he has a chance to be "important"...

I would not have expected this of a Clinton cabinet member and apostle of Robert Rubin. One senses that Summers' experience may have caused him to question, and subsequently discard, many of his liberal shibboleths.

Now, he seems to be acting as a real liberal -- in its 19th century incarnation. Which, as Barry Goldwater argued, would fit most conservatives like a glove...

11 posted on 08/23/2003 6:39:03 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE.)
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To: LS
During the discussion, not once, but many times, the faculty reiterated that they don't want to teach "content." "Students don't remember that anyway," was their excuse. Instead, they want to teach "themes," such as "oppression" or "economic expansion."


It leads one to ask whether your colleagues are thinking adults. Or high school sophomores?

12 posted on 08/23/2003 6:45:17 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media: IGNORANCE ON PARADE.)
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To: shrinkermd
Thanks for posting. I found myself chuckling at several points, especially at this one:

...for example, making it clear to Joseph Nye, dean of the Kennedy School of Government, that he would have to stop running a deficit.

13 posted on 08/23/2003 6:54:46 PM PDT by Diddle E. Squat
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To: shrinkermd

What Lawrence Summers has to do is get the big shot alumni donors to back him. Their willingness to donate is the key. Many must be disgusted with the modern university and it's catering to the left. For it being the employer of ballbusting feminazis and fraudulent ethnic studies professors. With the politicization of English Department faculty. Just take a gander at these freaks with all their post colonial studies, queer studies, gender theory and critical theory.





ALBRIGHT, DANIEL, Professor. B.A. 1967 Rice University; M.Phil. 1969, Ph.D. 1970 Yale University.
Interests: Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Literature, Music, and Painting; Theory of Comparative Arts; Lyric Poetry; Drama; Science and Literature.
Selected Works: Berlioz's Semi-Operas (2001); Untwisting the Serpent (2000); Quantum Poetics (1997); W. B. Yeats: The Poems, ed. (1990); Stravinsky: The Music-Box and the Nightingale (1989); Tennyson: The Muses' Tug-of-War (1986); Lyricality in English Literature (1985); Representation and the Imagination: Beckett, Kafka, Nabokov, Schoenberg (1981); Personality and Impersonality: Lawrence, Woolf, Mann (1978).
email address: albright at
ARMSTRONG, ISOBEL, Visiting Professor.(Birkbeck College, University of London)
B.A. 1959; Ph.D. 1964.
Interests: Romantic and Victorian Literature; Feminist Criticism; Literary Theory.
Selected Works: The Radical Aesthetic (2000); Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility (1994); Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics and Politics (1993).
email address: TBA


BHABHA, HOMI K., Professor. B.A. 1970 University of Bombay; M.Phil. 1974, M.A. 1977, D.Phil. 1990 Christ Church, Oxford.
Interests: Colonial and Post-Colonial Theory; Cosmopolitanism; 19th- and 20th- Century British and other English-Language Literatures; Semiotics; Theories of Ethics; Psychoanalysis; Questions of Culture and Globalization.
Selected Works: A Measure of Dwelling (forthcoming); Anish Kapoor, Exhibition Catalogue (1998);The Location of Culture (1993); Editor, Nation and Narration (1990); "Americanization: Imaging the American Century" (1999); "Anxiety in the Midst of Difference" (1998); "The White Stuff" (1998); "On the Irremovable Strangeness of Being Different" (1998); "Day by Day . . . with Frantz Fanon" (1998);"Dance This Diss Around" (1998).
email address: hbhabha at

BROX, JANE, Lecturer. B.A. 1978 Colby College; M.F.A. 1988 in Poetry Warren Wilson College.
Interests: Currently workin gon a collection of essays on landscapes and their history.
Selected Works: Five Thousand Days Like This One (1999); Here and Nowhere Else (1996).
email address: jmbrox at

BUELL, LAWRENCE, Professor. B.A. 1961 Princeton; M.A. 1962, Ph.D. 1966 Cornell
Interests: American Literature (especially the 19th Century); Literature and the Environment; Postcolonial Anglophone Literatures; British Romanticism.
Selected Works: Emerson (2003); Writing for an Endangered World (2001); The Environmental Imagination (1995); New England Literary Culture (1986); Literary Transcendentalism (1973).
email address: lbuell at
CARPIO, GLENDA, Assistant Professor, BA 1991 Vassar; PhD 2002 University of California at Berkeley.
The Literature, History and Culture of New World Slavery; African-American Visual Art; Anglophone Caribbean Literature; Theories on Memory and Textuality; Gender and Cultural Studies; native American and Latino/a US Literature.
Selected Works:
"Conjuring the Mysteries of Slavery: Ishmael Reed’s Flight to Canada" (forthcoming); "Archives of Bamboo and Wild Plantain: Derek Walcott’s Omeros" (forthcoming).
email address: carpio at
CHANG, LAN SAMANTHA, Briggs-Copeland Lecturer, BA 1987 Yale; MPA 1991 Harvard; MFA 1993 University of Iowa.
Interests: Fiction writing
Selected Works:
Junan (forthcoming 2003); Hunger: A Novella and Stories (1998)
email address: chang5 at
CONNOR, J. D., Assistant Professor. B.A. 1992 Harvard University; Ph.D. 2000 Johns Hopkins University.
Interests: 20th-Century American Literature and Culture; Film, esp. Hollywood; Cyberculture; Theories of Culture.
Selected Works:
"Universal 571: Breaking a Studio's Code" (2002); "Fraywatch" column for Slate (2002-3); "Sartre and Cinema: The Grammar of Commitment" (2001); "The Projections: Allegories of Industrial Crisis in Neoclassical Hollywood" (2000).
email address: jdconnor at

DAMROSCH, LEO, Professor. A.B. 1963 Yale; A.B./A.M. 1966 Cambridge; Ph.D. 1968 Princeton.
: Restoration and 18th-Century Literature; Romanticism; Puritan Imagination; Enlightenment.
Selected Works
: The Sorrows of the Quaker Jesus: James Nayler and the Puritan Crackdown on the Free Spirit (1996); Fictions of Reality in the Age of Hume and Johnson (1989); The Imaginative World of Alexander Pope (1987);God's Plot and Man's Stories: Studies in the Fictional Imagination from Milton to Fielding (1985); Symbol and Truth in Blake's Myth (1980); The Uses of Johnson's Criticism (1976); Samuel Johnson and the Tragic Sense (1972).
email address: damrosch at
DE LA DURANTAYE, LELAND, Assistant Professor. B.A. 1994 Michigan State University; M.A. 1998, Ph.D. 2002 Cornell University.
Interests: 19th and 20th Century English, American, French and German Literature; Aesthetics.
Selected Works: "Le glaive de la liberte" (forthcoming); "The Materiality of Meaning" (2002); "Agamben's Potential" (2001).
email address: deladur at

DONOGHUE, DANIEL, Professor. B.A. 1978 University of Dallas; M.Phil. 1981 University College Dublin; Ph.D. 1986 Yale.
Interests: Old English; Middle English; History of the Language.
Selected Works: Lady Godiva:The History of a Legend (2003); Beowulf: A Verse Translation, ed. (forthcoming 2002); "Lazamon’s Ambivalence" (1990); Style in Old English Poetry (1987).
email address: dgd at

ENGELL, JAMES, Professor. B.A. 1973, Ph.D. 1978 Harvard.
Interests: Eighteenth Century and Restoration; Romanticism; Criticism and Critical Theory; Rhetoric.
Selected Works: The Committed Word: Literature and Public Values (1999); Coleridge: The Early Family Letters (1994); Forming the Critical Mind (1989); ed. and contributor, Johnson and His Age (1984); ed. (with W. J. Bate) Biographia Literaria for the Collected Coleridge (1983); The Creative Imagination (1981).
email address: jengell at

FESTA, LYNN, Assistant Professor. BA 1990 Yale; PhD 2000 University of Pennsylvania.
Interests: 18th-century English and French Literature; the novel; sentimentality; travel literature and empire; gender and cultural studies.
Selected Works: "Richardson’s Pamela in France" (2001); "Colonialism and Closure in Louis XIV's Carrousel" (1999).

email address: lfesta at

FISHER, PHILIP, Professor. A.B. 1963 University of Pittsburgh; M.A. 1966; Ph.D. 1971 Harvard.
Interests: American Novel; English Novel; Cultural Theory; Modernism; American Art and its Cultural Institutions; The Philosophy and Literature of the Passions.
Selected Works: The Vehement Passions (2002); Still the New World: American Literature in a Culture of Creative Destruction (1998-99); Wonder, the Rainbow and the Aesthetics of Rare Experiences (1998); Making and Effacing Art (1991); (ed.) New American Studies (1991); Hard Facts (1986); Making Up Society (1981).
email address: pjfisher at


GARBER, MARJORIE, Professor; Director, The Humanities Center. B.A. 1966 Swarthmore; M.Phil, Ph.D. 1969 Yale.
Interests: Shakespeare; Renaissance Drama; Modern Drama, Dramatic Theory, and Performance; Cultural Studies; Psychoanalysis and Literature; Gender Theory; Feminist Theory; Media Studies; Detective Fiction; Visual Culture.
Selected Works: The Medusa Reader, co-ed. (2003); Quotation Marks (2002); The Medusa Reader (with Nancy J. Vickers - forthcoming 2002); Academic Instincts (2001); Sex and Real Estate (2000); Symptoms of Culture (1998); Dog Love (1996); Vice Versa: Bisexuality and the Eroticism of Everyday Life (1995); Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety (1992); Shakespeare's Ghost Writers: Literature as Uncanny Causality (1987); Coming of Age in Shakespeare (1981); Dream in Shakespeare: From Metaphor to Metamorphosis (1974); ed. The Turn to Ethics (2000); ed., Secret Agents: The Rosenberg Case, McCarthyism and Fifties America (1995); ed., Media Spectacles (1993).
email address: garber at

GATES, HENRY LOUIS, JR., W.E.B. DuBois Professor of the Humanities. B.A. 1973 Yale; M.A. 1974, Ph.D. 1979 University of Cambridge.
Interests: African and African-American Literature; Cultural Theory.
Selected Works: The Trials of Phillis Wheatley (2003); The Bondswoman's Narrative, ed. (2002); The African American Century (2000);Wonders of the African World (1999); Co-editor, Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience (1999); Co-editor, Encarta Africana (1999);Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man (1997); co-gen. ed., The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (1996); co-ed., The Dictionary of Global Culture (1996); The Future of the Race (with Cornel West) (1996); Colored People: A Memoir (1994); Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars (1992); The Signifying Monkey (1988); Figures in Black (1987).
email address: jkendall at
GRAHAM, JORIE, Boylston Professor of Oratory and Rhetoric. B.A. New York University 1973; MFA University of Iowa 1978.
Interests: English Poetry; American Poetry; Contemporary Poetics; Film Theory; Painting.
Selected Works: All poetry: Speaking Subject (2002); Swarm (2000); The Errancy (1997); The Dream of The Unified Field (1996); Materialism (1993); Region of Unlikeness (1991); The End of Beauty (1987); Erosion (1983); Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts (1980).

GRAY, ERIK, Assistant Professor. BA 1994 Cambridge; PhD 2000 Princeton.
Interests: Romantic and Victorian Poetry; Poetics and Prosody; English Literature and the Classics; Tragedy; Epic.
Selected Works: Ed. Tennyson's In Memoriam (forthcoming 2003); "Sonnet-Kisses: Sidney to Barret Browning" (2002); "Forgetting FitzGerald's Rubaiyat" (2001); "Epistolarity and Indifference in The Eve of St. Agnes" (1999); "Virgil, Tennyson, and the Death of Christmas" (1998); "Severed Hair from Donne to Pope" (1997).
email address: egray at

GREENBLATT, STEPHEN, Professor. B.A. Yale 1964; M.Phil Cambridge 1966; Ph.D. Yale 1969.
Interests: Shakespeare; Early Modern Literature and Culture; Literature of Travel and Exploration; Religion and Literature; Literature and Anthropology; Literary and Cultural Theory.
Selected Works: Hamlet in Purgatory (2001); Co-gen. ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature (2000); Practicing New Historicism (with Catherine Gallagher, 2000); Gen. ed. Norton Shakespeare (1997); ed. New World Encounters (1993); ed. Redrawing the Boundaries (1992); Marvelous Possessions (1991); Learning to Curse (1990); Shakespearean Negotiations (1988); Renaissance Self-Fashioning (1980).
email address: greenbl at

HARRIS, JOSEPH C., Professor. B.A. 1961 University of Georgia; B.A. 1967 Cambridge; M.A. 1963, Ph.D. 1969 Harvard.
Interests: Old English; Old Norse-Icelandic; Folklore and Mythology.
Selected Works: "Beowulf ’s Name" (2002); "Beowulf as Epic" (2001); "‘Double scene’
and ‘mise en abyme’ in Beowulfian Narrative" (2000); ‘Go sögn sem hjálp til a lifa af ’ í Sonatorreki (1999);  Prosimetrum: Crosscultural Perspectives on Narrative in Prose and Verse (ed. with K. Reichl, 1997);"Guilt and Sacrifice in Sonatorrek" (1994); "A Nativist Approach to Beowulf" (1994); "Love and Death in the Männerbund" (1993); "Beowulf's Last Words" (1992); "Gender and Genre: Short and Long Forms of the Saga Literature" (1991).
email address: harris at
HARRISON, DESALES, Lecturer. B.A 1990 Yale; M.A. 1991 Johns Hopkins; Ph.D 2002 Harvard.
Interests: 20th Century Literature; Poetry; Psychoanalysis.
Selected Works: The Collected Poems of Robert Lowell, assoc. ed. (forthcoming); "Words: Keats, Plath, and the Status of the Spoken in Psychoanalysis"; "Lethe and the Strem of Speech: Lyric and the Incorporation of Damage".
email address: TBA

JOHNSON, BARBARA, Professor. B.A. 1969 Oberlin; A.M., Ph.D. 1977 Yale.
Interests: 19th and 20th Century English, French, and American (especially Afro-American) Literature; Literary Theory.
Selected Works: The Feminist Difference (1998);The Wake of Deconstruction (1993); A World of Difference (1987); The Critical Difference (1981).
email address: johnson at

KIELY, ROBERT, Professor. B.A. 1953 Amherst; Ph.D. 1962 Harvard.
Interests: Novel; 19th Century; Modern and Contemporary Fiction; Narrative Theory; Bible; Christian Literature.
Selected Works: Still Learning: Spiritual Sketches from a Professor’s Life (1999); Reverse Tradition: Postmodern Fictions and the Nineteenth Century Novel (1993); Beyond Egotism: The Fiction of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and D.H. Lawrence (1980); The Romantic Novel in England (1972); Robert Louis Stevenson and the Fiction of Adventure (1964).
email address: rkiely at
KINCAID, JAMAICA, Visiting Lecturer
Interests: Fiction Writing, Gardening
Selected Works: All Fiction -  Mr. Potter (2002);  My Garden (Book) (1999); The Autobiography of My Mother (1996); Lucy (1990); Annie John (1985)
LEWALSKI, BARBARA, Professor. B.S.E. 1950 Emporia State University; A.M. 1951, Ph.D. 1956 University of Chicago.
Interests: Renaissance; Milton; Genre Theory and Criticism; Women in the Renaissance.
Selected Works: The Life of John Milton: A Critical Biography (2000); Writing Women in Jacobean England (1993); Paradise Lost and the Rhetoric of Literary Forms (1985); Protestant Poetics and the Seventeenth-Century English Lyric (1979); Milton's Brief Epic (1966).
email address: lewalski at

LYMAN, ELIZABETH DYRUD, Assistant Professor. AB 1979 Stanford; MA 1999, PhD 2002 University of Virginia
Interests: Drama of all periods; 20th-Century Literature; Opera and Music-Theater; Modernism; the Avant-Garde; Performance Art; Comic Art and the Graphic Novel; The Material Book; Artists’ Books; Textual Editing and Theory; Theories of Notation.
Selected Works:
"The Page Refigured: The Visual and Verbal Languages of Suzan-Lori Parks’ Venus" (2002).
email address: elyman at
MARTINEZ, MICHELE, Lecturer. A.B. 1990 Stanford; M.A. 1992, M.Phil. 1994, Ph.D. 1999 Yale.
Interests: 18th and 19th Century British Literature and Revivalism; 19th Century Religion and Devotional Poetics; 19th Century British, French, and American Women Writers and Artists; Irish Literature and History; History of Aesthetics; Ovid and English Literature; Dante and Petrarch; Journal and Memoir Wroting; Anglo-Indian Literature and Postcolonial Fiction.
Selected Works: "Women Poets and the Sister Arts in Nineteenth-Century Britain" (forthcoming); "Christina Rossetti's Petrarca" (forthcoming); "Sister Arts and Artists: Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh and Harriet Hosmer" (2003); "Katharine Tynan" (2001).
email address: mcmartin at
MENAND, LOUIS, Professor. B.A. 1973 Pomona; M.A. 1975, Ph.D. 1980 Columbia.
Interests: 19th and 20th Century Cultural History.
Selected Works: American Studies (2002); The Metaphysical Club (2001); The
Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, Volume 7: Modernism and the New
co-ed. (2000); The Future of Academic Freedom, ed. (1997);
Pragmatism: A Reader, ed. (1996); Discovering Modernism: T. S. Eliot and His
email address: menand at

MORI, KYOKO, Briggs-Copeland Lecturer. B.A. 1979 Rockford; M.A. 1981, Ph.D. 1984 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Interests: Creative Writing.
Selected Works: Stone Field, True Arrow (novel, 2000); Polite Lies (essays, 1998); The Dream of Water (memoir, 1994); One Bird (novel, 1995); Shizuko’s Daughter (novel, 1993); Fallout (poems, 1994).
email address: kmori at
MULLINS, BRIGHDE, Briggs-Copeland Lecturer. BA 1984 University of Nevada; MFA 1987 Yale School of Drama; MFA 1989 University of Iowa
Interests: Independent Film; Contemporary Theater
Selected Works: Rare Bird (2002); Monkey in the Middle (1998-2001); Click (2000); Topographical Eden (1998); Fire Eater(1995); Pathological Venus (1994); Meatless Friday (1990).
email address: bmullins at

NEW, ELISA, Professor. B.A. Brandeis University 1980; M.A. Columbia University 1982; Ph.D Columbia University 1988.
Interests: American poetry; American Literature-1900; Religion and Literature; Jewish Literature.
Selected Works: The Line's Eye: Poetic Experience, American Sight (1999); The Regenerate Lyric: Theology and Innovation in American Poetry (1993)
email address: enew at
NOHRNBERG, PETER, Assistant Professor. B.A. Harvard 1993; M.Phil. Magdalen College, Oxford 1995; M.A., M.Phil. 1998, Ph.D. Yale 2003.
Interests: British and American Modernism; History of the Novel; Satire; Irish Literature; Post-Colonial Theory; Poetics and Theories of Lyric; Post-War American Poetry; Twentieth-Century Visual Culture; Nature Writing.
Selected Works: "'I Wish He'd Never Been to School': Stevie, Newspapers and the Reader in The Secret Agent" (2003); The Book the Poet Makes: Collection and Re-Collection in W. B. Yeats's The Tower and Robert Lowell's Life Studies (1994).
email address: TBA

PARKER, JOHN, Assistant Professor. BA 1994 University of Michigan; MA 1996, PhD 1999 University of Pennsylvania.
Interests: Renaissance Drama; Lyric Poetry of any era; German Philosophy since Kant, Marxism; Christian Theology, Luther; Classical Literature.
Selected Works: "The Promise of History" (2002); "The Dialectic of Allegoresis in Benjamin's Illuminations" (1997).
email address: parker2 at
PICKER, JOHN, Assistant Professor. B.A. 1992 Swarthmore; M.A. 1995, Ph.D. 2001 University of Virginia.
: 19th-century British and American Literature (especially Victorian); Drama; Cultural Studies; Literature, Media, and Technology; Electronic Publishing.
Selected Works: Victorian Soundscapes (forthcoming); "The Two Voices" (forthcoming); "The Tramp of a Fly's Footstep" (2002); "The Victorian Aura of the Recorded Voice" (2001); "The Soundproof Study: Victorian Professionals, Work Space, and Urban Noise" (2000); "'Red War Is My Song': Whitman, Higginson, and Civil War Music" (2000); "Disturbing Surfaces: Representations of the Fragment in The School for Scandal" (1998).
email address: picker at

POWELL, D.A., Briggs-Copeland Lecturer. B.A. 1991 Sonoma State University; M.A. 1993 Sonoma State University; M.F.A. 1996 University of Iowa.
Interests: Poetry; Queer Studies; American Modernism; Literature of War; Literature of Prison; The New Testament and Apocrypha; Film Studies.
Selected Works: Lunch (2000); Tea (1998).
email address: dapowell at


PRICE, LEAH, Assistant Professor. AB Harvard 1991; M. Phil. 1995, Ph.D. Yale 1998
Interests: The Novel & Narrative Theory; Histories & Theories of Reading; Anthologies; Writing Technology; Journalism; 18th- & 19th-century British and French Culture. 
Selected Works:
Literary Secretares/Secretarial Culture, co-ed (forthcoming); The Anthology and the Rise of the Novel (2000, paperback reprint 2003); "Reading (and Not Reading) Richardson" (2000), "Ferrier's Pedantic Poetics" (2000), "George Eliot and the Production of Consumers" (1997), "Genlis' Fictions of Calumny" (1997), "The Executor's Hand in Sir Charles Grandison" (1996), "The Life of Charlotte Brontë and the Death of Miss Eyre" (1995), "'Vies Privees et scandaleuses': Marie-Antoinette and the Public Interest" (1992).
email address: lprice at
RICHARDS, PETER, Lecturer. B.A. 1990 Hampshire College; M.F.A. 1994 University of Iowa.
Interests: Poetry.
Selected Works: Nude Siren (2003); Oubliette (2000).
email address: TBA

ROWLAND, ANN, Assistant Professor. B.A. 1988 Yale University; M. Phil. 1990 Oxford University; Ph.D. 2000 Yale University.
Interests: 19th Century British Literature and Culture; Romanticism; Psychoanalysis; Gender Studies.
Selected Works: "Wordsworth's Children of the Revolution" (2001); "The False Nurse and the Unnatural Mother: Infanticide and Cultural Form in the Scottish Ballad Revival" (forthcoming); "The Predicament of the Present in Arnold's 'The Function of Criticism in the Present Time." (forthcoming).
email address: arowland at
SACKS, PETER, Professor. B.A. 1973 Princeton; M. Phil. 1976 Oxford; Ph.D. 1980 Yale.
Interests: English Language Lyric Poetry; Writing of Poetry; Art and Literature.
Selected Works: Necessity (2002); O Wheel (poems, 2000);Natal Command (poems, 1997); Woody Gwyn: an Approach to the Landscape (1995); Promised Lands (poems, 1990); The English Elegy: Studies in the Genre from Spenser to Yeats (1986); In These Mountains (poems, 1986).
SCANLAN, ROBERT, Visiting Lecturer. B.S. 1971 M.I.T.; M.A. 1974 Rutgers University; Ph.D. 1976 Rutgers University
Interests: Theatre Directing; Formal Theory; Development of New Work for the Stage; Contemporary Plays and Performance; Playwriting; Dramaturgy, Samuel Beckett.
Selected Works: Principles of Dramaturgy (forthcoming)
Recent Directing: Whatever Happened to Toby Wing? by Karl Kirchway (2001); A Chapter of Thanatos by Karl Kirchway (2000); The Philosopher's Stone by Mozart (1998); The Inferno of Dante translation by Robert Pinsky (1998); In Her Sight by Carol Mack (world premiere, 1997).
email address: rscanlan at
SCARRY, ELAINE, Professor. A.B. 1968 Chatham College; A.M., Ph.D. 1974 University of Connecticut.
Interests: 19th-Century British Novel; 20th-Century Drama; Theory of Representation; Language of Physical Pain; Structure of Verbal and Material Making in Art, Science, and the Law.
Selected Works: On Beauty and Being Just (1999); Dreaming by the Book (1999); ed. Fins de Siècle (1995);Resisting Representation (1994); ed., Literature and the Body (1988); The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (1985).

SEN, SHARMILA, Assistant Professor. AB 1992, Harvard; M.A. 1997, Yale; M. Phil. 1999, Yale; PhD 2000, Yale.
Interests: Anglophone Literature from Africa, the Caribbean, and South Asia.
Selected Works: "The Fictions of Ferdinand Oyono" (forthcoming); "No Passports, No Visas: The Line of Control Between India and Pakistan
in Popular Bombay Cinema" (forthcoming); "Indian Spices Across Black Waters" (2001); "Notes Upon My Return to the Diaspora" (2002); "Playing Africa: The Fictions of Ferdinand Oyono" (2001); "Urdu in Custody" (2001); "Wilson Harris's Who-You Bird" (1999).
email address: ssen at

SHELL, MARC, Professor. B.A. 1968 Stanford, Ph.D. 1975 Yale.
Interests: Economics and Literature; Kinship and Language; Nationalism; Renaissance.
Selected Works: Art & Money (1995);Children of the Earth (1993); Elizabeth's Glass (1993); The End of Kinship (1988); Money, Language, and Thought (1982); The Economy of Literature (1978); "Babel in America" (1995). 
email address: mshell at

SHINAGEL, MICHAEL, Senior Lecturer; Dean of Continuing Education and University Extension. A.B. 1957 Oberlin; A.M. 1959, Ph.D. 1964 Harvard.
Interests: 18th Century English Literature; Rise of the Novel; Satire.
Selected Works: Norton Critical Edition of Robinson Crusoe (1975, revised 1993); Concordance to the Poems of Jonathan Swift (1972); Daniel Defoe and Middle-Class Gentility (1968). 
email address: shinagel at
SMITH, ZADIE, Visiting Lecturer. B.A. Elton College, M.A. 1988 Jesus College.
Interests: Fiction Writing
Selected Works: The Autograph Man (2002); White Teeth (2001).
email address

SOLLORS, WERNER, Professor. Dr. phil. 1975 Freie Universität Berlin.
Interests: American Literature; American Studies; Ethnicity; Comparative Literature; Themes and Motifs.
Selected Works: "Ethnic Modernism" (2003); An Antholody of Interracial Literature: Black-White Contacts in the Od World and the New, ed. (2003); Co-ed. The Multilingual Anthology of American Literature (2000); Neither Black Nor White and Yet Both: Thematic Explorations of Interracial Literature (1997); ed. Multilingual America: Transnationalism, Ethnicity, and the Languages of America (1998); Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture (1986)
Electronic Publications include "From 'English-Only' to 'English-Plus' in American Studies" Interroads website at and "Americans All!" at the New York University Press website:

email address: sollors at

STAUFFER, JOHN, Associate Professor. B.S.E. Duke; M.A.L.S. 1991 Wesleyan; M.A. 1993 Purdue; M.Phil. 1996, Ph.D. 1998 Yale.
Interests: American Literature and Culture (especially the 19th Century); Photography and Literature; Civil War Culture; Autobiography; Religion and Literature; Literature of New World Slavery.
Selected Works: The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (2002); John Brown and the Coming of the Civil War (2002); "Race and Contemporary Photography" (2000); "Becoming Indian: The Revolutionary Ethos of Radical Abolitionists" (1999); "Daguerreotyping the National Soul: The Portraits of Southworth and Hawes" (1997).
email address: stauffer at

STODDARD, ROGER ELIOT, Senior Lecturer; Curator of Rare Books, Harvard College Library; Senior Curator, Houghton Library. A.B. 1957 Brown.
Interests: Rare Books.
Selected Works: A Library-Keeper’s Business: Essays (2002); Edmond Jabès in Bibliography: a Record of Printed Books, 2nd ed., rev. (2001); Julian Offray de La Mettrie, 1709-1751: a Bibliographical Inventory (2000); Marks in Books, Illustrated and Explained (1985); Poet and Printer in Colonial and Federal America (1983).
email address: stoddard at

TESKEY, GORDON, Professor. BA 1976 Trent University; MA 1977, PhD 1981 University of Toronto.
Interests: English Renaissance Poetry, especially Spenser and Milton; Poetry and Prophecy; History and Theory of Allegory; Critical Theory; Continental Philosophy and Its Relation to Poetry.
Selected Works: Allegory and Violence (1996).
email address: gteskey at
VAZ, KATHERINE A., Briggs-Copeland Lecturer. B.A. 1977 University of California, Santa Barbara; M.F.A. 1991 University of California, Irvine.
Interests: Fiction Writing; Portuguese and Luso-American Literature.
Selected Works: Mariana (1998); Fado & Other Stories (1997); Saudade (1994).
email address: kvaz at
VENDLER, HELEN, University Professor. A.B. 1954 Emmanuel College; Ph.D. 1960 Harvard.
Interests: English and American Lyric Poetry.
Selected Works: Seamus Heaney (1998);The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets (1997); Soul Says (1995); The Odes of John Keats (1983).
WATSON, NICHOLAS, Professor. B.A., M.A. Cambridge 1980; M. Phil. Oxford 1984; Ph.D. Toronto 1987.
Medieval English Literature, Theology, and Intellectual History; Poetry; Hagiography; Medieval Latin; Mysticism, Visionary Writing, Magic, Medieval Women’s Writing and Literary Culture.
Select Works: The Vulgar Tonuue: Medieval and Postmedieval Vernacularities, co-ed (2003); "Desire for the Past" (2000); The Idea of the Vernacular: An Anthology of Middle English Literary Theory, 1280-1520 (coauthor, 1999); "Censorship and Cultural Change: Vernacular Theology, the Oxford Translation Debate, and Arundel's Constitutions of 1409" (1995); Richard Rolle's "Emendatio Vitae" (edition, 1994); "The Composition of Julian of Norwich's Revelation of Love" (1993); Richard Rolle and the Invention of Authority (1991); Anchoritic Spirituality: "Ancrene Wisse" and Associated Works (translation, coauthor, 1991).
email address: nwatson at

WOOD, JAMES, Visiting Lecturer. B.A. 1984 Eton College, M.A. 1988 Jesus College.
Interests: 20th Century Literature; Religion and Literature
Selected Works: The Book Against God (2003); The Broken State: Essays in Literature and Belief (1999).
email address: TBA

14 posted on 08/23/2003 6:55:28 PM PDT by dennisw (G_d is at war with Amalek for all generations)
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To: eddie willers
That is high praise indeed. I am a bit all over the map. I am oriented towards looking at particular cases. It is in my genes, as reinforced by my education. Thus I tend to swing this way and that. As I grow older, more and more, I don't think any broad sweeping nostrums are very useful usually, or have much practical application given the reality on the ground, but sometimes they are. One most choose. It is all about honest judgment. Like Summers though, I tend to get a bit more militant when it comes to economic issues, free speech, and setting non ideological standards for excellence in the Ivory Tower.
15 posted on 08/23/2003 6:57:41 PM PDT by Torie
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To: dennisw
Some per the bios don't seem per se freakish. I don't get it.
16 posted on 08/23/2003 7:00:33 PM PDT by Torie
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To: dennisw
FWIW, my quick math says that only about 20 out of 50 of them could manage a smile.
17 posted on 08/23/2003 7:08:07 PM PDT by Diddle E. Squat
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To: Torie
Selected Works: Norton Critical Edition of Robinson Crusoe (1975)
18 posted on 08/23/2003 7:08:43 PM PDT by dennisw (G_d is at war with Amalek for all generations)
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To: Torie
Some per the bios don't seem per se freakish. I don't get it......

It was worse last year. I count 54 on the faculty this year and 25 are involved in neo Marxist garbage
19 posted on 08/23/2003 7:10:52 PM PDT by dennisw (G_d is at war with Amalek for all generations)
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To: Torie
So did you smile for your firm's photo of you? (This question is not meant to be a litmus test for freakishness, in case you don't do litmus tests...)
20 posted on 08/23/2003 7:12:38 PM PDT by Diddle E. Squat
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