Thursday, November 10, 2011

Conference on Public Intellectuals, Harvard, 2012

Third Annual Conference on Public Intellectuals
History of Science Department
Harvard University
April 12-14, 2012

Call for Papers

Since the 1950s, American writers and thinkers such as Irving Howe, Kenneth Clark, Russell Jacoby, Thomas Bender, bell hooks, Richard Posner, Toni Morrison, Thomas Sowell, and Cornel West have debated the meaning and purpose of public intellectuals. Many have openly criticized what they call the increasing corporatization of public intellectual life within the academy. Increasing specialization and narrower disciplines, some argue, has led to a growing paucity of radical ideas and a growing obsession with a mass media-infused culture. Others on the ideological right maintain that leftist public intellectuals do not pay enough attention to market forces and are too protected by and safely ensconced in tenured ivory towers, writing and teaching only to indoctrinate their students.

This conference seeks to bring together scholars and researchers in all disciplines whose work focuses on public intellectuals. We hope to engage these issues while moving beyond past debates into new questions on the role of public intellectual life in the 21st century. Paper topics on all global areas as well as the U.S. are welcome. The conference also seeks to provide a forum for self-reflection by public intellectuals in the past and present. The conference format will include individual presentations organized into workshops of 3-4 presenters and three special roundtable sessions.

Proposals of 300 words or less must include your identifying information including name, title, institution, email, and phone number. Please send two copies to the co-organizers, Larry Friedman ( and Damon Freeman (

Deadline for paper and panel proposals: Wednesday, November 30.

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