Higher education and university-based research rank among the main forces shaping our world. Focusing on knowledge rather than institutions, Language, Religion, Knowledge offers penetrating insight into how higher learning took its present form and the direction in which it is headed. The first section of this remarkable collection probes the history of higher learning in the United States; the second analyzes problems in higher learning today.
Renowned historian James Turner uncovers surprising blind spots in our knowledge of how higher learning has evolved by focusing on four themes: the influence of philology, historicism, disciplinary specialization, and the retreat of religion from the academy. Turner offers an especially interesting discussion of the powerful, yet often unrecognized, impact of the study of texts and languages on knowledge.
These thought-provoking essays examine losses and gains for contemporary higher education resulting from the fading of religion. Turner counts fragmentation of knowledge and the “marooning of research on an island of secular modernity” as among the greatest losses. Yet, he also proposes ways for higher learning today to recover the benefits of religiously grounded thinking without compromising the advantages of secularity.
By demonstrating that religious intellectual traditions can and should reinvigorate the life of the mind, Language, Religion, Knowledge gives new insights into the past and future of higher education.
“As always, Turner’s prose is steady and genteel, and his own voice comes through in these essays with humor and wit. His introduction and the brief commentaries before each essay tie the book together nicely. Turner demonstrates that solid intellectual history contributes much to our understanding of the past and the present.” — ISIS
“_Language, Religion, Knowledge: Past and Present_ is not a book for the faint-hearted or uninformed. But for those willing to consider the issues involved it is great fun—not by any means a quick read, but certainly an entertaining and thought-provoking one. The reaction is a desire both to applaud and argue, often at the same time.” — History: Reviews of New Books
“. . . Language, Religion, Knowledge is a book that deserves a wide audience among scholars of higher learning in America. It challenges a variety of assumptions about the past and present of the American university and seeks to create a discourse across academic disciplines about its future.” — History of Education Quarterly
“In this enlightening, two-century tour of American academia, readers learn about the university’s early life in America and its significance for scholars of all fields today.” — Science & Theology News