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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

English professor presents reading and book signing at Barnes & Noble

Harvey Teres will read from new book

April 6, 2011, by Nick Bennett

Harvey Teres, professor of English in The College of Arts and Sciences, will be at Barnes & Noble in Dewitt for a reading and book signing of The Word On the Street: Linking the Academy and the Common Reader at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 20.  The event is free and open to the public.

The book features the results of ethnographic research conducted over the years in Syracuse. With two-dozen Syracuse residents interviewed—knitters, auto restorers, dancers, a choir director, a labor organizer, waitresses, and of course readers—many local individuals and groups are featured in the book.

From the Publisher:

Despite significant changes since the mid-twentieth century in American critical culture-the culture emanating from the serious review of books, ideas, and the arts-it attracts only a small and declining minority of Americans. However productive this culture has been, American society has not approached the realization of Emerson's or Dewey's vision of a highly participatory American cultural democracy. Such a culture requires critics who are read by the average citizen, but the migration of critics and intellectuals from the public to the academy has resulted in fewer efforts to engage with ordinary citizens.

The Word on the Street investigates this disjunction between the study of literature in the academy and the interests of the common reader and society at large, arguing the vital importance of publicly engaged scholarship in the humanities. Teres chronicles how the once central function of the humanities professorate-to teach students to appreciate and be inspired by literature-has increasingly been lost to literary and cultural studies in the last thirty years.

The Word on the Street argues for a return to an earlier model of the public intellectual and a literary and cultural criticism that is accessible to ordinary citizens. Along the way, Teres offers an illuminating account of the current problem and potential solutions, with the goal of prompting a future vision of publicly engaged scholarship that resonates with the common reader and promotes an informed citizenry.

About the author:

Harvey Teres was born in the Bronx and raised in Los Angeles. He received his B.A. in English from Cornell University in 1972, spent six years as a labor organizer in the factories of Chicago, and returned to school to earn his M.A. and Ph. D. in English from the University of Chicago. His scholarship has always focused on the public role of literature and criticism.

His first book, Renewing The Left: Politics, Imagination, and the New York Intellectuals (Oxford University Press; 1996), explored the relationship between the political left in the U.S. and efforts to encourage literary and cultural change from the 1930s through the 1970s. He continues his interest in the public presence of literature with his newly-released The Word On the Street: The Academy and the Common Reader (University of Michigan Press) and American Beauty: Dialogues on Aesthetics With Ordinary People (in process).

American Beauty is a work of oral history in which some twenty local citizens speak about their encounters with beauty. Harvey has written dozens of articles and reviews on 20 th -century American literature and culture, including Jewish American writers. Teres is director of the Judaic Studies Program in The College of Arts and Sciences and the first faculty representative to the Syracuse University Board of Trustees.

The Word On the Street: Linking the Academy and the Common Reader by Harvey Teres

•    ISBN-13: 9780472051366 (Paperback - $29.95)
•    Pub. Date: December 2010
•    Publisher: University of Michigan Press