The New Southern University: Academic Freedom and Liberalism at UNC (Hardback)
  • The New Southern University: Academic Freedom and Liberalism at UNC (Hardback)

The New Southern University: Academic Freedom and Liberalism at UNC (Hardback)

Hardback 224 Pages / Published: 30/12/2011
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The creation of the "modern university" dates back to the early 1900s when American professors fashioned for their institutions a mission of social service and defined themselves as truth-seekers whose expertise would bring social benefits. These academics also introduced a new idea to the American public: academic freedom. In 1925, University of North Carolina President Harry Woodburn Chase proclaimed, "What the university believes with all its heart, is that a teacher has a right to state the honest conviction to which he has come through his work, that he has the right of freedom of speech in teaching just as any other citizen has that right under the constitution." The forging of this new identity and the introduction of academic freedom did not come without internal and external struggles, however. Perhaps in no other region was the university-trained intellectual's new identity met with more suspicion and scrutiny than in the South, a region historically resistant to change. A close examination of one of the leading southern universities, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), during these years reveals the ambitions of this new generation of professors, the reactionary logic of their critics, and the confused attempts of school leaders to use academic freedom to help the school navigate through these transformative decades. Between world wars, UNC emerged as a modern university that championed academic freedom and the expertise of its faculty. This expertise would, in theory, help lift the state and indeed the entire South out of poverty and place it on the road to progress. From the outset, university leaders understood that explaining and defending academic freedom was the key to gaining public support, thereby setting an example for other southern universities. In To Carry the Truth: Academic Freedom at UNC, 1920-1941, Charles J. Holden examines academic freedom through a contextualized intellectual history of the movement's origin at one school. Holden explores how academic freedom worked over time and reveals the fault lines between the goals of academic freedom and what was really possible. To Carry the Truth will be of interest to historians of higher education, of the South, and of the law. This project is being considered for UPK's New Directions in Southern History series. Charles J. Holden is Aldom-Plansoen Distinguished Professor of history at St. Mary's College of Maryland. He is the author of In the Great Maelstrom: Conservatives in Post-Civil War South Carolina (South Carolina) and has contributed to several other publications, including North Carolina Historical Review and Maryland Historical Magazine.

Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky
ISBN: 9780813134383
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 455 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm


"A valuable account of how issues of academic freedom played out at the South's leading institution of higher education between the World Wars, thereby illuminating both the general history of academic freedom and of that university." -- John T. Kneebone, author of Southern Liberal Journalists and the Issue of Race, 1920-1944

"Holden's stimulating history of academic freedom at the University of North Carolina during the 1920s and 1930s adds new depth to the study of a core principle of American higher education." -- Randal Hall, author of Lum and Abner: Rural America and the Golden Age of Radio

"As someone who writes about academic freedom at the level of philosophical abstraction, I am at once enlightened and chastened by Charles Holden's 'on the ground' history of what academic freedom really means in action at a major educational institution. This book forcefully reminds us that there are some battles that have to be fought again and again." -- Stanley Fish, author of How to Write A Sentence and How To Read One

"The University of North Carolina in the middle part of the 20th century has long enjoyed a reputation as a bastion of intellectual seriousness and progressive social vision in the conservative South. In this engaging book, Holden meticulously examines the ideas and commitments that lay behind this reputation as well as the intellectual, social and political limits that, in the end, bound the university. This fine work is deeply revealing, both about the inner workings of higher education and why it sometimes sits so uneasily in the community around it." -- Melissa Kean, University Historian at Rice University

"Holden's concise, well-argued book charts the difficulties of implementing and protecting that 'spiritual goal.'" -- Charlotte Observer

"Holden's excellent book reminds us of the tensions that circumscribed academic freedom then and now. Disseminating intellectually honest information and solving societal problems remain core values of the university." -- News and Observer

"Holden has well illustrated why the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was, by the 1930s, widely acclaimed as the leading southern university." -- North Carolina Historical Review

"It reassures the reader with a liberal political outlook and/or a concern for the protection of academic freedom that these values were both preserved at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in the first half of the twentieth century." -- Wayne Urban

"Holden's able monograph provides an encouraging sign of renewed scholarly interest in the relationship between higher learning and cultural change in the modernizing South. Covering the University of North Carolina (UNC) during the years 1920-1940... the book examines the intellectual climate at a bellwether university during the era of the Ku Klux Klan, the anti-evolution controversy, and the labor upheavals of the depression era." -- Journal of Southern History

"Loss's book creates bridges between topics often treated in isolation." -- Rebecca S. Lowen, American Historical Review

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