Making Scholarship Matter
Edited By Cynthia Gerstl-Pepin and Cynthia Reyes
Chapter Seven: The Public Intellectual: The Changing Context; Implications for Attributes and Practices
← 80 | 81 → CHAPTER SEVEN
The Public Intellectual
The Changing Context; Implications for Attributes and Practices
WILLIAM J. MATHIS
The sledgehammer rose slowly before crashing into the windshield of the faded red SUV. Political opponents had bought Cheryl Rivers’s old car, parked it in front of the statehouse, and proceeded to pound it to pieces. It made for dramatic television. Where other politicians had gone to ground, State Senator Rivers publicly defended Act 60, Vermont’s new education funding law, and faced the critics of the legislation and the ensuing media firestorm head-on. As her frequent co-presenter, I learned that public forums jam-packed with people with their blood up do not have much in common with the cordial intellectual dialogue that (sometimes) occurs in academic circles.
I was luckier. I escaped with only one punctured tire in a dark, cold, snow-covered parking lot. I had had other brushes with public anger: my mailbox disappeared one night, and in another incident, the Ku Klux Klan burned down our camp gate and left us a little note. Anyone taking stands on public issues is subject to criticism, public scorn, and worse. It’s exciting and scary, yet morally compelling. A good deal has been written about public intellectuals. The common thread is they bring a body of academic or scientific knowledge to bear on public policy issues and present this information to lay audiences in straightforward colloquial terms.
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.