This was primarily through the impulse to avoid elitism. It must be noted that elitism by Hofstadter and in his work is a fine angle through which to criticize Anti-Intellectualism. Fourth, I developed a critique of Anti-Intellectualism over the past year that began, to be honest, as a performative act.
The goal was to find a valid and cogent pathway into how Hofstadter should be revised or reworked. It was much easier than I thought to find criticisms, not ever having deeply explored the immediate reception of the book.
The Pulitzer had always signaled to me that enthusiasm outran criticisms. So much for that.
The reviewers were harsh. But I was surprised at how engaged I became in a more serious and deeper critique—one that I believe indirectly informed those myriad criticisms, but could not be articulated or spoken at the time. The larger goal aside, my findings most definitely undermined a great deal of my original enthusiasm for the book. What does all of this mean?
These relationships may begin in enthusiasm, or even ardor, but are always contingent on new readings and new perspectives. Finally, we bring those relationships into the classroom. We never rest on relevance, or the enthusiasm, or lack thereof, of our fellow inquirers—even when the politics seem to demonstrate a superficial alignment. No historian I know ever slavishly presents the work of another historian or intellectual. There is always an attempt at remove—to foster critical distance.
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American Idyll: Academic Antielitism as Cultural Critique
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Antielitism Left and Right: An Interview with Catherine Liu - Los Angeles Review of Books
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