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common culture

The Prayer of Common Books

Last week I suggested that Stanford professor Robert Harrison’s nostalgic apologia for the Western Culture program at Stanford – or, at least, his apologia for the program’s shared reading list – echoed older assertions about the power of common readings to foster intellectual community.  Indeed, this defense of the core reading list was practically an article of faith for some Stanford professors, from the time the course was adopted in 1980 to the time that it was replaced in 1988.  In this post, I look more closely at this faith in the power of common books to constitute community. Read more