American College and the Culture of Aspiration, 1915-1940 / Edition 1

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Is higher education a right or a privilege? Who should go to college? What should they study there? These questions were hotly debated between the world wars, when an unprecedented boom in college enrollments forced Americans to struggle between their belief in the importance of educational opportunity and their desire to preserve the existing social structure. In The American College and the Culture of Aspiration, 1915–1940, David O. Levine offers the first in-depth history of higher education during this era, a period when colleges and universities became arbiters of social and economic mobility and a hierarchy of schools evolved to meet growing demands for occupational training and socialization.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In a narrative that is intelligently presented, well organized, and swarming with information on a subject that deserves the attention given to it, the author skillfully describes how conservatives mouthed the platitudes of a liberal, democratic ethos of opportunity—the American Dream—and then acted effectively to delimit and structure the consequences."—History of Education Quarterly

"For anyone interested in the history and future of American post-secondary education, this book offers an insightful foundation for understanding the competing tides of stability and change that have marked post-World War II higher education. It will inform both policymakers and historians about an overlooked, yet critical period in the uneasy evolution of American higher education institutions."—Harvard Educational Review

"Levine's book is a major achievement-one of the essential half-dozen volumes in the history of higher education in America."—Choice

Library Journal
Blending rich historical detail and in-depth social analysis, Levine presents an insightful analysis of American higher education between the world wars. He documents the nation-wide expansion of colleges and universities and recounts the evolution of the ``self-made man'' into the college-educated one. He also explores the deep-rooted ambivalence about the purpose of a college education, and considers factors such as the rise of urban universities and junior colleges, and the racial and ethnic biases of college admissions procedures. (He provides only token glimpses at the role of women and blacks at colleges.) This searching look at a little-known period of higher education history belongs in all subject collections. Patricia Smith Butcher, Trenton State Coll. Lib., N.J.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801494987
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1986
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288

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