An authoritative study of the emergence of Jewish studies on the American campus. Sociologists have noted that access to and achievement in higher education facilitated the entrance of American Jews into the economic and cultural mainstream. Ritterband (Jewish Studies and Sociology/City College, CUNY) and Wechsler (Education and Human Development/Univ. of Rochester) remind us that, as a widespread phenomenon, this is recent; until the 1950s and early 1960s some Ivy League schools had quotas for Jewish students and faculty. But at the turn of the century, in a small but pivotal group of American universities, there were quite a few Jewish students, and a smaller proportion of faculty members who were offering courses on Jewish subjects, often under the rubric of Semitic Studies. The authors focus on six of these schools—Columbia, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, the University of California, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania. Between 1875 and 1925 these schools offered courses in ancient Near Eastern languages, biblical archaeology, and comparative philology. As the authors note, ``The American Semitics professorate contained a goodly proportion of Jews who commanded sufficient resources to assume the subject's inclusion.'' By the mid-1920s academic anti-Semitism and a shift in the priorities of American Jews precipitated a sharp decline in both Jewish student enrollments and course offerings in Judaica. All of higher education was in the throes of change, and subjects as esoteric as biblical criticism and comparative philology were seen as irrelevant. The book, which ends with the proliferation of Jewish Studies programs in the 1970s, has wider implications than its title would indicate: regarding the value of a liberal education, the contents of the much-disputed literary canon, and the structuring of the college curriculum, which, the authors note, ``is rarely invented from a coherent rational plan.'' This analysis of an important American educational story is somewhat plodding and dry, but the end result is coherent and insightful.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-253-35039-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Indiana Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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