11 Oct 2011 5:00pm - 7:00pm Lady Mitchell Hall, Sidgwick Site


CRASSH 10th Anniversary Lecture Series: The Idea of the University


Professor Stefan Collini


Professor Stefan Collini (English, University of Cambridge) will give the first in a series of six lectures on The Idea of the University.


A lot of different, and incompatible, roles are assigned to universities, as they always have been, but one way to begin to think about their distinctiveness is to see them as institutions which are primarily devoted to extending and deepening human understanding. This is a pretty outrageous idea: no other institutions have this as their primary purpose. But what is the relation between such abstract generalities and the great variety of types of university that actually exist and the circumstances in which they, now, in 2011, find themselves? This lecture offers a few brief reflections on the history and current state of the institution we call the university, and then goes on to propose a vocabulary and a perspective which enable us to discuss the role of such institutions in more fruitful terms than the clichés about ‘contributing to economic growth’ which currently dominate public debate on the topic.


The lectures are free and open to all, no registration required.

Further lectures in the series are:


About Stefan Collini

Stefan Collini is Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at Cambridge University, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is also a frequent contributor to The Guardian, The London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, and other publications, as well as an occasional broadcaster. Among his books, Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain (2006), a major analysis of the role of the intellectual and its place in British culture, received particularly widespread attention in both the academic world and the general media, while reviewers of his most recent collection of essays, Common Reading: Critics, Historians, Publics (2008), have described him as ‘one of Britain’s finest essayists and writers’. His other books include Public Moralists (1991), Matthew Arnold: a Critical Portrait (1994), and English Pasts: Essays in History and Culture (1999).


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk