August 19, 2012, 12:10 pm
Interview with CBS’s Mike Wallace, 1959.
When the literary editor of The New Republic asked me to review two new books on Ayn Rand three years ago, I readily agreed. Rand, the Russian-born writer known for her take-no-prisoners defense of capitalism, was beginning to come back into vogue among conservatives, and I recalled hearing that there was a congressman from Wisconsin who was singing her praises and assigning her writings to his staff. I had had my own flirtation with Rand, when I was 18, and although it lasted less than a year, I could never forget a college classmate who kept extensive index cards ready so that he could quote her whenever he deemed the situation appropriate.
The two books were interesting, indeed fascinating. One, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, was written by…
August 19, 2012, 12:05 pm
When I tell people unfamiliar with academe that I am a professor, they usually respond, “So you must feel a lot of pressure, with the whole publish-or-perish thing?” Rather than explain that I am a full professor, with few carrots dangling before me and no sticks prodding me, I typically say, “It’s fine. I really enjoy writing.”
And I do. The pleasure I take in writing has been a great benefit to me professionally. (I once overheard a fellow academic mutter, “She must not sleep” regarding my penchant for writing.) However, I also am aware that the pressure of writing “early and often” has led me, at certain points, to take an instrumentalist approach to projects. At times I have given up the kind of measured cultivation of ideas I highly value, in exchange for the designation “productive.” I know I am not alone in this, and even now, with tenure, I still carry a …
August 19, 2012, 12:01 pm
Welcome to The Conversation, The Chronicle’s new online opinion feature. Building on Brainstorm and Innovations, it includes many of the regular contributors you have seen over the years and offers new ones as well. We aim for The Conversation to be a venue for regular commentary and discussion about higher education, ideas, and academic life—like Alan Wolfe’s analysis today of Ayn Rand’s intellectual merits (or lack thereof), and Imani Perry’s essay on the perils of academic writing. We hope to enlighten and entertain in The Conversation, and we also hope to hear from you. Feel free to reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.