Debates on culture, politics, and the university have hardly abated since the 1960s when the radical assault on the authority of culture first challenged the classical conception of higher education with imperious demands for relevance and ideological correctness. Since then, campus unrest on the part of students has given way to a radicalized faculty characterized by contempt for high culture, fetishization of pop culture, and increasing absorption by feminism and identity politics.
While this development has not gone unchallenged, most have dismissed opponents of traditional scholarship as intellectual nihilists and anarchists. In contrast, Eugene Goodheart's Culture and the Radical Conscience recognizes the moral and cultural roots of radical and utopian tradition while deploring its tendency toward intolerance and narrowness. Goodheart defends the study of serious literature for its interplay of aesthetic response, alertness to political theme, and historical awareness.