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By Thomas S. Kidd

Thomas Kidd, a largely revered pupil of colonial historical past, deftly deals either intensity and breadth during this available, introductory textual content at the American Colonial period. Interweaving basic records and new scholarship with a bright narrative reconstructing the lives of ecu colonists, Africans, and local american citizens and their encounters in colonial North the US, Kidd bargains clean views on those occasions and the interval as a complete. This compelling quantity is equipped round topics of faith and clash, and individual by way of its incorporation of an increased geographic frame.

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Let me produce a few historical illustrations: • The nineteenth century, especially its last third, marked what is agreed to be perhaps the greatest transition in American higher education—a drift from an emphasis on received religious truths to the search for knowledge in general; a steady conquest of scientific emphases over religious ones; the incorporation of sciences into curricula; the Humboldtian view of research and the consolidation of specialized knowledge; and postgraduate degrees and professional schools.

The lesson to be learned is that humans’ assessments of their own histories and situations include not only realism but also galloping extensions of absolutes to create imaginary worlds of both utopian bliss and Chicken Little disaster. This lesson should impart a note of caution if not distrust in those extreme predictions. The social sciences themselves reveal a long history of the PanglossianCassandrian syndrome. Anyone familiar with the literatures of industrial and economic development, urbanization, and community life will find these dual tendencies—the one extreme basking in the effects of prosperity, urbanity, and human betterment, the other bemoaning the impoverishment, depersonalization, and injustices.

These activities have created diversity and tended to turn the university into an aggregate of programs and activities with dynamics of american universities 39 little organic relationship to one another. Even early in the twentieth century, one commentator could speak of the campus as an aggregation of incompatibles—“a combination of sporting resort, beer garden, political convention, laboratory, and factory for research as confused as a Spanish omelet” (Canby 1936: 81; for a more recent version of the same observation, see Geiger 2004: 15).

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