Coming of Age in New Jersey: College and American Culture

By Michael Moffatt | Go to book overview

SEVEN / The Life of the Mind

THE OPPORTUNITY TO WRITE ABOUT MY INTELLECTUAL LIFE I FIND EVEN MORE GRATIFYING THAN AN INVITATION TO ANONYMOUSLY DISCUSS MY SEXUALITY. . . . I'VE BEEN READING SINCE I WAS 3 AND ONLY STARTED HAVING SEX SINCE I TURNED 20, [SO] MY "LIFE OF THE MIND" IS ALSO MORE CENTRAL TO MY PERSONALITY.--Junior female

ONE'S STUDY HABITS [ARE] JUST AS TOUCHY A SUBJECT AS ONE'S SEXUALITY AND MAYBE MORE SO. SEXUALITY IS SOMETHING, AT LEAST FOR ME, WHICH JUST HAPPENS OR DOES NOT HAPPEN. IT REALLY HAS NO BEARING ON ONE'S LIFE LIKE ONE'S ACADEMIC SUCCESS AT COLLEGE. . . .--Junior male

College for the students was not just about autonomy and friendship and fun and sex and the extracurricular development of the individualistic self. It was also a place to get an education, a surprisingly satisfactory one in the opinion of most of the undergraduates. Why surprisingly? Because, if we are to believe a number of recent critics and commentators, almost all the news about American colleges and American students in the 1980s is bad. Precollege students are culturally ignorant, these critics say ( Hirsch 1987); they know the correct answers to less than 60 percent of a set of basic questions about western history and literature ( Ravitch and Finn 1987: 1). The colleges themselves have lost their sense of mission ( Boyer 1987: 2); they are, along with the professoriat and the educational liberalizations of the 1960s, responsible for the decline or the demise of literate culture in the United States in the late twentieth century ( Bloom 1987; Bennett 1984). College students are lost in meaningless worlds of relativism and pop culture, in which intellectual and

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Coming of Age in New Jersey: College and American Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Contents ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Preface xv
  • One / Orientation 1
  • Further Comments 20
  • Two / "What College is Really Like" 25
  • Further Comments 62
  • Three / a Year on Hasbrouck Fourth 71
  • Further Comments 125
  • Four / Race and Individualism 141
  • Further Comments 168
  • Five / Sex 181
  • Further Comments 231
  • Six / Sex in College 247
  • Further Comments 266
  • Seven / the Life of the Mind 271
  • Further Comments 310
  • Appendix One on Method 327
  • Appendix Two on Typicality 331
  • Further Comments 336
  • References Cited 341
  • Index 347
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