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Last edited by Tim Deaton
July 15, 2017 | History

Earl Shorris

25 Jun 1936 - 27 May 2012

Earl Shorris (Chicago, June 25, 1936 – New York City, May 27, 2012) was an American writer and social critic. He is best known for establishing the Clemente Course in the Humanities.

From Alexander Nazaryan, The Harper's Blog (Harper's Magazine), 19 Mar 2013:

The common archetype is of a reformer full in his youth of resplendent visions that lose luster with time, so that in his senescence he grows bitter, convinced that progress is an illusion. Shorris was a rejoinder to that trope. Born in Chicago and raised in New Mexico, he enrolled at the age of thirteen in the University of Chicago, where college president Robert Maynard Hutchins, in love with the Great Books, was preaching that “the best education for the best is the best education for us all.” From there, Shorris headed to Mexico, where he became (among other ventures) a bullfighter. Later yet, he went to work in advertising, climbing the ranks at N. W. Ayer & Sons. The image of the stocky Shorris mingling with the Don Drapers of the day seems to me incongruous, as it may have to him. Indeed, books like The Oppressed Middle: Politics of Middle Management (1981) and A Nation of Salesmen: The Tyranny of the Market and the Subversion of Culture (1994) show an exasperation with the late-stage capitalism whose servant Shorris had somehow become.

Viniece Walker changed all that, turning Shorris from a critic of American culture to a champion of those whom that culture had largely discarded. If that seems a little grandiose, that is nevertheless how Shorris saw his mission — to spread dignity “outward from the classroom.” The course he designed was for the most part traditional, starting with Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and covering, among others, Aristotle, Dante and Kant in a total of 110 hours of instruction, conducted for two hours twice weekly across 10 months. Much of the instruction was to be carried out using the Socratic method, meaning that students would be questioned intensely on their assumptions — not only about what they read, but how they lived. Such questioning was intended to allow students a reflective refuge from what Shorris called “the surround of force,” which “bound [the poor] to a busy and fruitless life of reaction.”

Bibliography (from Wikipedia, 15 Jul 2017)
The Death of the Great Spirit: An Elegy for the American Indian (1973) A Nation of Salesmen: The Tyranny of the Market and the Subversion of Culture ` W. W. Norton (1994) ISBN 0393334082
Under the Fifth Sun: A Novel of Pancho Villa W. W. Norton (1980) ISBN 9780440093886<br /> Jews Without Mercy: A Lament Anchor Books/Doubleday (1982)
Riches for the Poor: The Clemente Course in the Humanities W. W. Norton & Company (2000) ISBN 978-0393320664<br /> In the Yucatan: A Novel W. W. Norton & Company (2000) ISBN 978-0-393-34202-4
The Life and Times of Mexico W. W. Norton & Company (2004) ISBN 978-0393059267<br /> The Politics of Heaven: America in Fearful Times W. W. Norton & Company (2007) ISBN 978-0393059632
The Art of Freedom: Teaching the Humanities to the Poor W. W. Norton & Company (2013) ISBN 978-0-393-08127-5<br /> American Vespers Harper's Magazine Dec. 2011

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History Created April 1, 2008 · 3 revisions Download catalog record: RDF / JSON

July 15, 2017 Edited by Tim Deaton Edited without comment.
September 12, 2008 Edited by RenameBot fix author name
April 1, 2008 Created by an anonymous user initial import