Matthew L. Jockers may be the first English professor to assign 1,200 novels in one class. Lucky for the students, they don’t have to read them. As grunts in Stanford University’s new Literature Lab, these students investigate the evolution of literary style by teaming up like biologists and using computer programs to “read” an entire library. It’s a controversial vision for changing a field still steeped in individual readers’ careful analyses of texts. And it could become a more common […]
On a winter afternoon in 2004, a woman waits in the detective unit of a Philadelphia police station. Two officers, outfitted with combat boots and large guns, enter the room. The cops place their guns on the table, pointed at her. The woman is 22, tiny, and terrified. The officers show her a series of photos of men from around her neighborhood. Two of the men are her roommates, Mike and Chuck, low-level drug dealers who keep crack and guns […]
Categories: Uncategorized • Tags: Alice Goffman, cities, criminal justice, ideas, mass incarceration, Philadelphia, poverty, Princeton, race, research, sociology, University of Pennsylvania, urban studies
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent $472-million (so far) on higher education. Why many in academe are not writing thank-you notes. A special report.
Categories: higher education • Tags: advocacy, Bill Gates, competency-based education, Educause, financial aid, Gates Foundation, higher education, lobbying, New America Foundation, philanthropy, politics, Southern New Hampshire University, technology
To complete her homework assignment, Meran Hill needed total concentration. The University of Washington senior shut the blinds in her studio apartment. She turned off the music. She took a few deep breaths. Then she plunged into the task: Spend 15 minutes doing e-mail. Only e-mail, and nothing else. Soon enough, though, a familiar craving bubbled up. For some people, the rabbit hole of Internet distraction begins with cat videos. For Ms. Hill, who calls herself “a massive weather geek,” […]
In the summer of 2011, Ian Morris gave what most of his fellow classics professors would consider an unusual talk. The setting: CIA headquarters. The subject: humanity’s future. Until recently, intelligence analysts had taken no interest in Morris. The Stanford University professor is an authority on ancient Greece who turned to archaeology after failing as a heavy-metal guitarist. Morris makes his home as far from Washington bureaucracy as you can imagine: atop a ridge in this hippie town in the […]
William Julius Wilson changed the way scholars saw urban poverty. Did it make a difference? My new article looks at the influence of Wilson’s classic 1987 book, The Truly Disadvantaged. The Harvard sociologist’s book stimulated an enormous volume of research about inner-city neighborhoods, and it also shaped public policy. Yet 25 years after its publication, hardly anyone is talking about poverty. Not since the early 1960s has the issue received so little attention. Here’s an excerpt from the story: Jacqueline lived […]
College life, quantified: My latest story looks at how data mining is reshaping the student experience. The article is a collaboration between The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Here’s an excerpt: CAMPUSES are places of intuition and serendipity: a professor senses confusion on a student’s face and repeats his point; a student majors in psychology after a roommate takes a course; two freshmen meet on the quad and eventually become husband and wife. Now imagine hard data […]
Liberals would be well-served, says Jonathan Haidt, to wise up about conservatives’ gut feelings. In this week’s Chronicle Review, I profile the moral psychologist, happiness guru and liberal scold. A sidebar explores the controversy over Haidt’s claims about liberal bias in the field of social psychology. And a graph lets you see where you fall on the moral spectrum. Also, see some reaction to these articles in The American Conservative, The Atlantic, and Reason.
My latest Chronicle story is a profile of the physician-philosopher Raymond Tallis. The scrappy British polymath aims to cure academe of two illnesses: “Neuromania” and “Darwinitis.” Neuromania is the notion that to understand people you must peer into the “intracranial darkness” of their skulls with brain-scanning technology. Darwinitis is the idea that Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory can explain not just the origin of the human species—a claim Tallis enthusiastically accepts—but also the nature of human behavior and institutions. Tallis’s opponents call […]