Learning on the Left
Political Profiles of Brandeis University
Author: Stephen J. Whitfield
Brandeis University is the nation’s only Jewish-sponsored nonsectarian university. Though established immediately after World War II, Brandeis has risen to become one of the most respected institutions of higher learning in the United States. The faculty and alumni of the university have made exceptional contributions to myriad disciplines, but they have also played a surprisingly formidable role in American civic life.
Stephen J. Whitfield makes the case for the pertinence of Brandeis University in understanding the vicissitudes of American liberalism and radicalism since the mid-20th century. Founded to serve as a refuge for qualified professors and students haunted by academic antisemitism, the university attracted many who envisioned the republic as worthy of betterment. Whether as liberals or as radicals, figures associated with Brandeis University typically adopted a critical stance toward American society and sometimes acted upon their reformist or militant beliefs. This volume is not an institutional history, but instead shows how one university, over the course of seven decades, employed and taught remarkable men and women who belong in any account of the evolution of American politics, especially on the left. Whitfield’s vivid portraits invite readers to appreciate a singular case of the linkage of political influence with the fate of a particular university in modern America.