Is a university education still relevant? What are the forces that threaten it? Should academics ever be allowed near Twitter? In Academic Diary, Les Back has chronicled three decades of his academic career, turning his sharp and often satirical eye to the everyday aspects of life on campus and the larger forces that are reshaping it. Presented as a collection of entries from a single academic year, the diary moves from the local to the global, from PowerPoint to the halls of power. With entries like “Ivory Towers” and “The Library Angel,” these smart, humorous, and sometimes absurd campus tales not only demystify the opaque rituals of scholarship but also offer a personal perspective on the far-reaching issues of university life.
Commenting on topics that range from the impact of commercialisation and fee increases to measurement and auditing research, the diary offers a critical analysis of higher education today. At the same time, it is a passionate argument for the life of the mind, the importance of collaborative thinking, and the reasons that scholarship and writing are still vital for making sense of our troubled and divided world.
Les Back is Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He received a PhD in Social Anthropology from Goldsmiths and taught previously at the Department of Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham. His books include The Art of Listening and The Auditory Culture Reader (with Michael Bull) and The Changing Face of Football: Racism, Identity and Multiculture in the English Game (with Tim Crabbe and John Solomos). He writes journalism and has made documentary films and lives in south London.
Or Why Higher Education Still Matters
In memory of David Finch
Published in 2016 by Goldsmiths Press Goldsmiths
University of London, New Cross, London SE14 6NW
Printed and bound by Clays Ltd, St Ives plc
Distribution by The MIT Press
Cambridge, Massachusetts, and London, England
Copyright © 2016 Les Back
The right of Les Back to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with section 77 and 78 in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means whatsoever without prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and review and certain non-commercial uses permitted by copyright law.
A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 978-1-906-89758-1 (pbk)
ISBN 978-1-906-89757-4 (ebk)