Blues, smoke, and shadows: jazz in “musical” noir films

Guest post by Sheri Chinen Biesen

The Society For Cinema & Media Studies hosts Sheri Chinen Biesen for presentation on this topic at the 2015 SCMS annual conference.

Jazz music flourished in “musical” noir films, which were distinctive for showing smoke, shadows, and bluesy nightclub performers. The music recalled Harlem’s Cotton Club, where, according to Aljean Harmetzs obituary for Lena Horne,  the “customers were white, barely dressed dancers were light-skinned blacks, Duke Ellington was the star of the show, and the proprietors were gangsters.” Musical noir featuring jazz performances in murky cabaret joints evoked Jazz Age speakeasies and illicit affairs, challenging Hollywood censorship. Low-lit lounges, the enthralling minor key sounds of musicians, and blue film scores suggested censorable activity in after hours nightspots. Some especially notable examples of musical noir films featuring jazz and set in smoky, atmospheric nightclubs include Blues in the Night (1941), Jammin’ the Blues (1944, with Lester Young), Phantom Lady (1944), To Have and Have Not (1944, with Hoagy Carmichael), Gilda (1946), The Man I Love (1947), New Orleans (1947, with Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday), Young Man With A Horn (1950, with Harry James), Sweet Smell of Success (1957, with Chico Hamilton), Elevator to the Gallows (1957, with Miles Davis score), Paris Blues (1961, with Duke Ellington score), and A Man Called Adam (1966, with Benny Carter score).

Harold Arlen, known for playing music infused with “the wail of the blues” and writing music for Harlem’s Cotton Club, composed jazz for Blues in the Night, which involves a musician who goes insane after tangling with a femme fatale singer. Warner Bros. wanted Duke Ellington for the film, but cast Jimmie Lunceford’s big band instead. In the film, Lester Young leads a jazz noir jam session. Meanwhile, censors believed that another film, Phantom Lady, implied that musicians jamming in a sexual jazz “jive” sequence were drug addicts. Hoagy Carmichael plays jazz in To Have and Have Not as Lauren Bacall sings and seductively entices men at the bar. In Gilda, Rita Hayworth sings the bluesy “Put the Blame on Mame,” dances, tosses her hair, and performs a striptease in a jazz nightclub. She peals off her gloves, inviting viewers to unzip her strapless gown—before she is yanked off stage and violently slapped by misogynist beau Glenn Ford. Jazz music conveyed the blues amid smoke and shadows in musical noir Blues in the Night, Jammin’ the Blues, To Have and Have Not, Gilda, The Man I Love and Young Man With A Horn, where femme fatale Bacall grabs a jazz musician’s hair in a torrid embrace as taglines clamor: “Put down your trumpet, jazzman–I’m in the mood for love!” Ellington’s somber blue tones in Paris Blues and Davis’ haunting jazz score in Elevator to the Gallows (Lift to the Scaffold/Ascenseur pour l’échafaud) evoke loneliness as a doomed femme fatale wanders late-night streets aimlessly searching for her illicit lover (who killed her husband for her). In A Man Called Adam, the titular character destroys himself performing to Benny Carter’s score as Nat Adderly plays. As postwar Hollywood shifted to color films, Arlen penned the moody after hours torch song “The Man That Got Away” for noir musical A Star Is Born (1954). In that film, director George Cukor reimagined the blues, smoke, and shadows of jazz musical noir in brooding color.

This piece grows out of research for my book, Music in the Shadows: Noir Musical Films, in which I examine the connection between jazz music, film noir, and Hollywood jazz musicals in noir musical cinema. I will be presenting a talk at the 2015 Society for Cinema & Media Studies Conference in Montreal based on this research.

Sheri Chinen Biesen is associate professor of film history at Rowan University and the author of Blackout: World War II and the Origins of Film Noir and Music in the Shadows: Noir Musical Films.

*(Note: Quote from Aljean Harmetz, “Lena Horne,” New York Times, 9 May 2010, A1.)

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Meet us in Portland: Association of College and Research Libraries

The Association of College and Research Libraries meets in Portland later this week, and Project MUSE and JHUP cordially invite you to stop by booth #463 to check out our latest books, journals, and online publications. There will be a special opportunities to see what’s coming from MUSE and to test drive the acclaimed online editions of The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot.  Read more about the conference on the ACRL annual meeting website, and see below for more on what’s new and forthcoming from JHUP:


eliot-portrait-webThe Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot: The Critical Edition
Ronald Schuchard, General Editor

The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot gathers for the first time in one place the collected, uncollected, and unpublished prose of one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century. The result of a multi-year collaboration among Eliot’s Estate, Faber and Faber Ltd., Johns Hopkins University Press, the Beck Digital Center of Emory University, and the Institute of English Studies, University of London, this eight-volume critical edition dramatically expands access to material that has been restricted or inaccessible in private and institutional collections for almost fifty years.

The collection includes all of Eliot’s collected essays, reviews, lectures, commentaries from The Criterion, and letters to editors, including more than 700 uncollected and 150 unpublished pieces from 1905 to 1965. Each item has been textually edited, annotated, and cross-referenced by an international group of leading Eliot scholars. The volumes are being released in sequence and published on Project MUSE, with an archival print edition to be published once all eight volumes have been released. The first two volumes, Apprentice Years, 1905–1918 and The Perfect Critic, 1919–1926, were released in 2014 and are now available; Volumes 3 and 4 are expected to be released in Fall 2015. Subsequent volumes will be released in pairs on an annual basis.

Free trials are available.


Check out JHUP’s collection of scholarly journals and books:

Library Trends
portal: Libraries and the Academy
Organizing Enlightenment: Information Overload and the Invention of the Modern Research University
, by Chad Wellmon
Wikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority, and Liberal Education in the Digital Age, by Thomas Leitch


Essential Documents in the History of American Higher Education, by John R. Thelin
American Quarterly
Policy Documents and Reports, eleventh edition, by the American Association of University Professors
Philosophy and Literature 


Freshwater Fishes of North America: Volume 1: Petromyzontidae to Catostomidae, Volume 1, edited by Melvin L. Warren, Jr., and Brooks M. Burr, illustrated by Joseph R. Tomelleri
The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted: The Last Great Projects, 1890–1895, Volume 9, edited by David Schuyler, Gregory Kaliss, and Jeffrey Schlossberg
The Day Commodus Killed a Rhino: Understanding the Roman Games, by Jerry Toner


Crisis in an Atlantic Empire: Spain and New Spain, 1808-1810, by Barbara H. Stein and Stanley J. Stein
Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America,revised and updated, 2-volume set, by Guy Baldassarre, A Wildlife Management Institute Book
Maxwell’s Demon and the Golden Apple: Global Discord in the New Millennium, by Randall L. Schweller

 

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Ebola and International Health Regulations

Guest post by Sara E. Davies

daviesThe worst Ebola outbreak in history began in Guinea in December 2013 before spreading to Liberia and Sierra Leone in March 2014, with sporadic cases of infection in Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal. At least 10,000 people have now died from the disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that earlier intervention could have prevented the disease’s spread, leaving fewer than 5,000 people dead. Understandably, there is much debate about the performance of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Critics ask why, given Ebola’s high mortality rate and the fact the outbreak occurred in chronically poor countries with weak health systems and histories of unstable governance, the WHO did not raise the alarm earlier than it did. In March 2014, when the outbreak was in Guinea and there were reports the disease had spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia, the WHO Director-General chose to not convene an emergency committee to determine whether the outbreak constituted a potential public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), as allowed by the International Health Regulations (IHR).

Since 1951, the International Health Regulations (originally named the International Sanitary Convention) had been the major international framework regulating the required response of WHO and its member states to specific disease outbreaks, specifically plague, cholera, yellow fever, and, until 1981, smallpox until 1981. The IHR were substantially revised in 2005 to strengthen the WHO’s ability to respond to epidemic-prone diseases, food-borne diseases, accidental and deliberate outbreaks, toxic chemical and nuclear accidents, and environmental disasters that “pose a threat to international public health security.” The revised IHR set reporting and verification timelines for outbreak events, permitted the WHO to receive outbreak reports from non-state “unofficial” sources, and provided for the human rights of infected people. The new IHRs shifted the focus of the WHO’s approach to infectious disease in three ways: from control at borders to containment at source; from a limited number of diseases to all public health threats; from preset measures to adapted responses. A key part of the framework is the decision of the WHO Director-General to refer an outbreak event to a specially convened IHR Emergency Committee to determine whether the outbreak event constitutes a PHEIC demanding a range of exceptional measures.

As the Ebola outbreak spread in March through June 2014, WHO officials were aware of the outbreak, knew which countries were affected, and were conscious of the problems associated with them. Yet no emergency committee was convened until early August, when the first case was reported in Nigeria. A PHEIC was declared by the IHR emergency committee on 8 August. The further spread of the virus to Senegal in early September, coupled with the dramatic rise of infections and deaths in Liberia and Sierra Leone, prompted the UN Security Council to issue a landmark resolution on 18 September establishing the UN Mission for Emergency Ebola Response (UNMEER). Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said the resolution signaled the “gravity and scale of the situation now requires a level of international action unprecedented for an emergency.”

Why was the WHO so slow to act? Some blame tensions between WHO headquarters in Geneva and its regional offices in West Africa. The WHO’s decentralized design certainly creates inefficiencies and divisions within the organization. But there is little direct evidence to suggest that these divisions caused the WHO’s slowness. There were other practicalities that would have hampered the response irrespective, even had the organization declared a PHEIC earlier. In particular, the WHO confronted a budget and staffing emergency, having lost a third of its budget to cuts in 2012–2013. Despite the PHEIC announcement in early August, donor funding did not escalate until after the Security Council resolution in September.

How, then, should the Ebola outbreak be viewed against the standards set by the IHR in 2005?

Our book, Disease Diplomacy: International Norms and Global Health Security, explores the IHR revisions and the WHO’s efforts to promote new behavioral standards for states in dealing with disease outbreaks. There are three main “take home” messages from the book that foretold the difficulties WHO and affected member states would face with an outbreak such as Ebola:

  • Whilst states accept their responsibilities to report and verify outbreaks, they do not always have the capacity to do this in a timely fashion. The delays that occurred in the Ebola case were largely attributable to the complexity of the task. The capacity to verify outbreaks quickly is beyond the scope, sometimes, of some developed countries. More attention, and resources, should be invested in the relationship between IHR compliance and health system capacity building.
  • States agreed to establish an IHR capacity fund to assist states with this task. But this fund has still not been created and, unsurprisingly, many developing states are struggling to meet their core capacities as stipulated in the IHR.
  • Rather than focusing on WHO’s failures, attention should be paid to the failure of the states that have the capacity to implement the IHR to assist their counterparts who are struggling. Too many states were hesitant to provide or permit medical assistance and too eager to impose restrictions by limiting visas, prohibiting migration, and withdrawing field personnel (i.e. troops withdrawn from UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia) at precisely the time when these things were needed most.

The revised IHR was a technical and political achievement for WHO and member states. The lesson from Ebola is to return to the content of the instrument to evaluate how to better prepare states and the WHO for the next outbreak.

Sara E. Davies is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at Queensland University of Technology’s Australian Centre for Health Law Research. She is the program director of the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities Program at the University of Queensland’s Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. She is the coauthor with Adam Kamradt-Scott and Simon Rushton of Disease Diplomacy: International Norms and Global Health Security.

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Meet us in Los Angeles: American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

If you are heading to the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies meeting in Los Angeles, be sure to browse JHU Press books and journals in the exhibit area from March 19 to 22. Press authors will be stopping by, and we’ll offer a 30% discount throughout the meeting (and afterward using code HEAA). We are also pleased to offer a special on-site ASECS 2015 promotion for Metaphors of Mind: An Eighteenth-Century Dictionary, by Brad Pasanek. Read more about the conference on the ASECS annual meeting website, and check out these new and forthcoming books from JHUP:


Special on-site promotion for Metaphors of Mind: Preorder during ASECS for $30.00, tax and shipping included (reg. price $49.95).

pasanekMetaphors of Mind is a genuinely significant book. An exciting and stimulating read, it promises to precipitate and augment important conversations both in eighteenth-century literary studies and in the field of digital humanities more broadly.”—Jenny Davidson, Columbia University, author of Reading Style: A Life in Sentences

Metaphors of Mind is one of the most compelling blends of traditional literary critical methods and the new digital humanities/data mining projects that literary studies has seen to date. With welcome clarity and disarming humor, Pasanek provides an eye-opening survey, peppered with vivid examples, of the countless ways in which eighteenth-century Anglo-American culture imagined perception and personal identity.”—Deidre Lynch, Harvard University, author of Loving Literature: A Cultural History

Metaphors of Mind: An Eighteenth-Century Dictionary, by Brad Pasanek


wellmon“A timely and provocative book written with contemporary debates in mind, Organizing Enlightenment gives us an impressive history not of academic disciplines but of disciplinarity itself—the infrastructure of specialization that has come to characterize the modern research university. What is the point of specialization? What is the role of the book within learning? Are lectures outmoded or sources of enlivened knowledge? Organizing Enlightenment helps us understand how specialization is not a new problem to be solved but the answer to an older problem of media surplus which we still inhabit. The more we hear calls for the reform of research universities today, the more we will need such insightful and clearly written histories as this one.”—Andrew Piper, McGill University, author of Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times

Organizing Enlightenment: Information Overload and the Invention of the Modern Research University, by Chad Wellmon


My Silver Planet: A Secret History of Poetry and Kitsch, by Daniel Tiffany
Wordsworths Ethics, by Adam Potkay
Securing the West: Politics, Public Lands, and the Fate of the Old Republic, 1785–1850, by John R. Van Atta
Harlequin Britain: Pantomime and Entertainment, 1690–1760, by John OBrien


Crisis in an Atlantic Empire: Spain and New Spain, 1808-1810, by Barbara H. Stein and Stanley J. Stein
Rakes, Highwaymen, and Pirates: The Making of the Modern Gentleman in the Eighteenth Century, by Erin Mackie
The Overflowing of Friendship: Love between Men and the Creation of the American Republic, by Richard Godbeer
Performing the Temple of Liberty: Slavery, Theater, and Popular Culture in London and Philadelphia, 1760–1850, by Jenna M. Gibbs
Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, Volume 43, edited by Timothy Erwin and Michelle Burnham


Designing the New American University, by Michael M. Crow and William B. Dabars
Teaching Online: A Guide to Theory, Research, and Practice, by Claire Howell Major
Wikipedia U: Knowledge, Authority, and Liberal Education in the Digital Age, by Thomas Leitch
Policy Documents and Reports: eleventh edition, from the American Association of University Professors

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A day with Dan Weiss and “Remaking College”

Guest Post by Phil Walsh, Washington College

choppA recent visitor to Washington College came away impressed with the vibrancy and potential of our campus. He appreciated the size and quality of our student body (about 1450 undergraduate students, drawn from all over the nation and world); he loved our bucolic location (in Chestertown, MD, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore); and he admired our thriving chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, America’s oldest and most prestigious honor society. That visitor, Daniel Weiss, president of Haverford College and coeditor of Remaking College: Innovation and the Liberal Arts, also appreciated our invitation to discuss the important issues in his book with WC’s students, faculty, staff, administrators, and board members.  (See the New York Times article about Daniel Weiss’s recent appointment as president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.)

For the past few years our chapter of PBK, the Theta of Maryland, has taken a leadership role on campus and organized a speaker series on the subject of liberal education. In the spring of 2013, we welcomed Andrew Delbanco, author of College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be; in the spring of 2014, our guest was Daniel DeNicola, author of Learning to Flourish: A Philosophical Exploration of Liberal Education; and this past November, we invited President Weiss. We initiated this series partially in response to national debates about the value of liberal education in the twenty-first century, but we believed (and continue to believe) that there is enormous value in talking about the liberal arts in our local community. We are, after all, the practitioners of this ancient, noble, but often misunderstood course of study, and we should strive to know as much as we can about its history, ideals, and futures.

The topics discussed in Remaking College are timely and important (for a review, see my colleague Sean Meehan’s post in The Key Reporter), and for our campus it takes on additional relevance in a year when Washington College is searching for a new President. From the beginning we envisioned a high impact event and planned Daniel Weiss’ visit during a meeting of WC’s Board of Visitors and Governors. Our chapter initially distributed copies of Remaking College to all the members of the Board, to the College’s senior staff, and to new faculty, but interest was so great that we placed a second order and offered copies to all faculty and staff. To lend a national perspective, we invited John Churchill, chief executive of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, to attend the lecture and to lead a post-dinner conversation in response to President Weiss’ remarks.

The evening, by all accounts, was a remarkable success. As a sitting college president at an institution not unlike ours, Daniel Weiss spoke with passion, clarity, and insight. He described the various challenges that all small liberal arts colleges face (e.g., shrinking demographics and rising costs), and, drawing on lessons from the book, he offered a compelling argument for why liberal arts colleges are as vital as ever. After reading Remaking College and hearing President Weiss speak, I remain confident about the mission of Washington College (and of great schools like ours). They are places where students come to slow down and to be unhurried in the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. They are places where students learn how to love to learn from faculty, staff, and, perhaps most powerfully, their own peers. They are places where students are challenged to embrace the ideals of liberal education: freedom of inquiry; breadth and depth of study; creative endeavor across the disciplines; and an understanding that in the human experience, from classical Athens to twenty-first century Shanghai, change alone is unchanging. Remaking College is a valuable book that asks liberal arts colleges not only to reflect on current best practices but also to return to one of the oldest and most basic human questions: “What is the best way to educate our youth?”

Phil Walsh is a visiting assistant professor of English at Washington College, where he teaches a wide range of literature courses, as well as ancient Greek and Latin. Since the fall of 2013, he has served as president of the Theta of Maryland, Washington College’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

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Filed under Academia, Book talks, Higher Education

Robin W. Coleman joins Johns Hopkins University Press

Johns Hopkins University Press has appointed Robin W. Coleman as acquisitions editor for public health, global health, and health policy. He will join the Books Division’s editorial department of nine full-time editors and Robin Coleman2assistants.

Coleman will continue to grow a dynamic list that includes top sellers such as Introduction to U.S. Health Policy, Health Disparities in the United States, and Governing Health. The Press’s acquisitions build on the substantial reputation of Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, the leading school of its kind in the world.

“Robin brings to the position an energy and enthusiasm that matches Johns Hopkins’ commitment to global health,” said editorial director Greg Britton. “We are very pleased he has joined our team and look forward to building this list of books essential for this field.”

Prior to arriving at Johns Hopkins, Coleman acquired textbooks and professional resources for the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. He previously worked as a sales coordinator at Cornell University Press and currently serves as treasurer for Washington Publishers, a professional group based in the D.C. area. He has a bachelor’s degree in writing, literature, and publishing, with a minor in science, from Emerson College.

Established in 1878, Johns Hopkins University Press is America’s oldest university press and one of the world’s largest. It publishes 90 scholarly journals and nearly 175 new books each year. The Press is also home to Project MUSE, a leading provider of digital humanities and social science content for the scholarly community.

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Filed under Acquisitions, Behind the Scenes, Editing, Health and Medicine, Public Health, Publishing News

Designing the New American University

Gregory Britton, JHUP editorial director, notes that the publication of Designing the New American University comes at a time when higher education faces remarkable challenges. “As many states withdraw their support for public higher education and the rising costs of providing quality education is evident in the increase in student debt, Crow and Dabars propose a dramatic rethinking of higher education. What they outline here is nothing short of revolutionary—institutions that are responsive to their students, embedded in their communities, and engaged with the world.”

Preface by Michael M. Crow

crowWhen I became president of Arizona State University in July 2002, I came to the office following more than a decade at Columbia University, where I had served as a professor of science and technology policy as well as an administrator and designer of new initiatives, culminating in an appointment as executive vice provost. The contrast between Columbia, which began as one of the elite colonial colleges that would come to constitute the Ivy League, and Arizona State, a burgeoning but then still largely undifferentiated regional public university, epitomized the heterogeneity and diversity in mission and scale of operation of the roughly two hundred institutions in the United States characterized as research universities. Established prior to the American Revolution as King’s College, Columbia epitomizes the institutional model of the highly successful gold standard in American higher education. Like its institutional peers, public as well as private, the school may boast not only of its achievements but also the rigors of its selectivity. By contrast, ASU is the nation’s youngest major research university and, with an enrollment of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students presently exceeding 76,000, one of the nation’s largest public universities governed by a single administration. Yet, whereas Columbia and its institutional peers deviate little from a familiar trajectory charted in some cases centuries in the past, ASU has deliberately undertaken an exhaustive reconceptualization to emerge as one of the nation’s leading public metropolitan research universities, an institution that combines accessibility to an academic platform underpinned by discovery and knowledge production, inclusiveness to a broad demographic representative of the socioeconomic diversity of the region and nation, and maximum societal impact—a model I have termed the “New American University.”

In this book, my colleague William Dabars and I consider both the scope and complexity of the set of American research universities and the various contexts within which their contributions to society, as well as the dilemmas and challenges these institutions routinely encounter, may be addressed. We concur with Frank Rhodes, president emeritus of Cornell University, in his assessment that “the university is the most significant creation of the second millennium.” More than other institutional types, major research universities leverage the potential of knowledge production, and their significance increases with each passing year as the role of knowledge becomes ever more crucial. Our society depends increasingly on the educated citizens and ideas, products, and processes these institutions produce as their integrated platforms of teaching and research contribute to our economic and global competitiveness as well as standard of living and quality of life. These institutions represent our best hope for the survival of our species. While the reconceptualization of ASU represents the pioneering of a foundational prototype for a New American University, more broadly, the “design process” undertaken during the past decade constitutes a recasting of the American research university as a complex and adaptive comprehensive knowledge enterprise committed to discovery, creativity, and innovation, accessible to the broadest possible demographic, both socioeconomically and intellectually. These commitments together imply scalability at a level previously considered improbable if not undesirable.

An objective assessment of our knowledge enterprises undertaken with sufficient perspective—perhaps from the distance of the Oort Cloud, as once suggested by University of Michigan president emeritus James Duderstadt—discloses any number of fundamental design limitations. We face social and environmental challenges of unimaginable complexity, but rather than restructuring institutional operations to embrace and manage complexity, academic culture perpetuates existing organizational structures and practices and restricts its focus with disciplinary entrenchment and increasing specialization. Our universities sometimes appear hesitant to mount operations to address these challenges in real time and retreat instead to the comfort zone of abstract knowledge. The organizational frameworks we call universities—this thousand-year-old institutional form—have not evolved significantly beyond the configurations assumed in the late nineteenth century, nor have differentiated new designs come to the fore. As the lead architect in the design of a new class of large-scale multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary institutions during the past two decades, both at Columbia and now in Arizona, I recognize that although institutional reconceptualization is not without its pitfalls given inherent sociocultural barriers, new models off er new ways of shaping and examining problems and advancing questions through cooperation among large numbers of teams, programs, and initiatives.

Although the effort to transform a large public university into an adaptive knowledge enterprise in real time and at scale is unusual if not unprecedented, the reconceptualization has allowed the academic community to reassess its priorities. In many instances the design process has offered an opportunity for faculty and researchers to reaffirm their commitment to serve society, spurring efforts to advance innovation commensurate with the scale and complexity of the challenges that confront the global community. And because concern with tackling the grand challenges has become engrained in our institutional culture, the teaching and research enterprise of the university sometimes takes on the characteristics of a moonshot project. “Moonshot thinking starts with picking a big problem: something huge, long existing, or on a global scale,” writes Astro Teller, who directs Google X, which he describes as the corporate “moonshot factory.” “Next it involves articulating a radical solution—one that would actually solve the problem if it existed . . .  Finally, there needs to be some kind of concrete evidence that the proposed solution is not quite as crazy as it first seems; something that justifies at least a close look at whether such a solution could be brought into being if enough creativity, passion, and persistence were brought to bear on it.” The reconceptualization of Arizona State University could in some sense be likened to a moonshot project, as well as some of the initiatives of its teaching and research enterprise, which we delineate in this book. It is therefore to the entire academic community of the past decade, whose commitment to excellence and accessibility and unfailing willingness to innovate have made the design pro cess possible, that I wish to dedicate our book. Creativity, passion, and persistence are hallmarks of the American research university, and to adapt a concept from the thinkers at Google, which through innovation has undertaken a corporate initiative to Solve for X, we might well say that a hallmark of a New American University is the willingness to attempt to solve for X with U.


Advance Praise for Designing the New American University:

Designing the New American University is a brilliant, innovative, lucid, and path-breaking book—arguably the most significant book on higher learning since Clark Kerr’s The Uses of the University, published more than a half-century ago. No one should miss the delight of engaging in the discussion that this extraordinary book will surely engender about the future of American universities.” —JONATHAN R. COLE, provost emeritus, Columbia University; author of The Great American University: Its Rise to Preeminence, Its Indispensable National Role, Why It Must Be Protected

“Instead of dwelling on the past glories of American higher education alone, this book centers on reinvention and the dynamic nature of American universities. At a time when higher education is in flux—some would say in crisis—the clarity of Crow’s vision and proposed solutions make Designing the New American University essential reading.”—VARTAN GREGORIAN, Carnegie Corporation of New York and former president, Brown University

Designing the New American University deserves close reading since it sets the context and need for the design of a new type of research university and then presents the project of ASU as a case study that has already achieved goals that far surpass expectations. While not strictly a model—in fact, Crow and Dabars are very clear that institutional design must honor the parameters and contingencies of individual contexts—it does show us the way to a significantly more optimistic and inclusive future for higher education.”—JOHN SEELY BROWN, former chief scientist, Xerox Corporation, and former head of Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)


On April 2nd, Michael Crow joins New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, author of Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania, for a Zocalo Public Square event. The discussion, What Are Universities For?, will be moderated by Liz McMillen, editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

To read The Economist article which highlights Arizona State University’s innovative management under President Michael Crow, click here.

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