This historical study of intellectuals asks, for every period, who they were, how important they were, and how they saw themselves in relation to other Americans. Lewis Perry considers intellectuals in their varied historical roles as learned gentlemen, as clergymen and public figures, as professionals, as freelance critics, and as a professoriate. Looking at the changing reputation of the intellect itself, Perry examines many forms of anti-intellectualism, showing that some of these were encouraged by intellectuals as surely as by their antagonists. This work is interpretative, critical, and highly provocative, and it provides what is all too often missing in the study of intellectuals a sense of historical orientation.
Lewis Perry is the Andrew Jackson Professor of History at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of Childhood, Marriage, and Reform, also published by the University of Chicago Press.