One of the books that really captured my imagination during my Ph.D. years was Andrew Delbanco’s The Death of Satan, which influenced me to the point that I mentioned it in my cover letters during my run at the market that led me to Mondoville. I still give it shoutouts when I talk to my kids about underlying assumptions (and what Kenneth Burke might have called the “terministic screen”) and how they shape our understanding (e.g., “sick” vs. “evil”.)
In any case, Prof. Delbanco has a nifty article in the current edition of the Chronicle of Higher Ed Review on the subject of the value of the liberal arts and humanities in a world that seems determined to cast them aside in favor of more immediately practical studies. In some ways, Delbanco echoes the argument that Jeff Sypeck made once, that the stuff of elite education should, indeed must be made available to folks from ordinary backgrounds as well, and that the arts and humanities can’t be allowed to become a mere playground of those who already have high cultural capital.
Delbanco’s essay seems to prefigure a new book. His essay is clearsighted about higher ed’s problems and opportunities — I trust his book will be as well.