Stefan Collini, University of Cambridge

1 March 2016


The long tradition of writing on ‘the idea of the university’ functions as a form of cultural criticism: current practices and policies are read symptomatically as evidence of deeper failings in thought and sensibility. Such writing easily falls into a nostalgic vein, implying that things were somehow better at some unspecified moment in the past. Stefan Collini’s lecture re-visits this tradition of writing to explore the logic of such critiques and to suggest ways in which a progressive story about the future can be developed from critical analysis of the present.


Stefan Collini is Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at Cambridge University, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the author of, among other books, Public Moralists (1991), Matthew Arnold: a Critical Portrait(1994), English Pasts: Essays in History and Culture(1999), Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain(2006), Common Reading: Critics, Historians, Publics (2008),and most recently What Are Universities For? (2012) as well as a frequent contributor to The London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian, The Nation, and other publications.


The David Watson Memorial Lecture Series, 2015 – 2016, What Should Universities Be?

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