The Multi-Talented Mr.Erskine: Shaping Mass Culture through Great Books and Fine Music

Hardcover | April 15, 2012

byKatherine Elise Chaddock

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Best-selling novelist, popular concert pianist, Hollywood script writer, radio personality, celebrity professor, society figure in New York and Paris, and magnet for women from Anaїs Nin to Helen Gahagan - John Erskine, early twentieth century bon vivant, was a true American original. Beyond the headlines, however, he also left a lasting influence on American intellectual and artistic culture as the father of the Great Books curriculum, the founder of a university in France, the first president of The Juilliard School of Music, and a profoundly skilled teacher of English literature at Columbia University. His balancing act among multiple identities, underscored by his commitment to create access for the middle class to highbrow culture, is the subject of this, the first biography of an influential, unforgettable educator and public intellectual.

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Best-selling novelist, popular concert pianist, Hollywood script writer, radio personality, celebrity professor, society figure in New York and Paris, and magnet for women from Anaїs Nin to Helen Gahagan - John Erskine, early twentieth century bon vivant, was a true American original. Beyond the headlines, however, he also left a lasti...

Katherine Elise Chaddock is Professor in the College of Education, University of South Carolina, and the author of numerous published works on the history of American higher education, including Visions and Vanities: John Andrew Rice of Black Mountain College.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:270 pages, 9.64 × 5.69 × 0.8 inPublished:April 15, 2012Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230117759

ISBN - 13:9780230117754

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Introduction: Merchant of Academe
Gifted Boy of the Gilded Age
The Columbia Stamp
The Gown is the Town
Growing Pains at a New Columbia
World War I and the French Seduction
A Canon for the Rest of Us
Celebrity Attraction
Fame and Loathing on Morningside Heights
Raising Juilliard
Segues and Second Acts

Editorial Reviews

'John Erskine lived one of the great untold lives of the twentieth century - until now. Educator, best-selling author, boulevardier, concert pianist, and first president of The Juilliard School of Music, Erskine was a driving force in highbrow, lowbrow, and middlebrow culture in an era that reveled in all three. The multi-talented Chaddock has done a superb job weaving together the many threads of Erskine's diverse life into a fascinating biographical tapestry. I'm glad this book got written, and got written so well.' - Alex Beam, author of A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books 'This lively and absorbing biography succeeds in uncovering the energetic and controversial man beneath the movement, while reminding us of this country's continuing need for well-read and broadly educated citizens, able to search for and recover their roots in these masterpieces of learning.' - Christopher B. Nelson, president, St. John's College, Annapolis, MD 'Chaddock's book is an elegant and cogent volume on the life of John Erskine, one of the most important American cultural leaders of the first half of the twentieth century, whose legacy is now sadly neglected. Happily, the author brings to life Erskine's many accomplishments as a teacher, poet, essayist, educational visionary, and concert pianist. Erskine's focused vision regarding the important role that the art of music plays within the fabric of American society strongly resonates for twenty-first-century readers. This book is a must read for those interested in America's cultural history from World War I to the end of World War II.' - Joseph W. Polisi, president, The Juilliard School 'Never losing sight of the man at the center of her story, Chaddock has at the same time skillfully placed her subject firmly in his own unique time and place in the history of American educational, musical, and literary culture. Among its many useful services, this book should once and for all dispel the misconception that Great Books programs, which Erskine originated, are fundamentally elitist and exclusionary rather what they are in fact: an expression of the democratization of learning for all citizens.' - Donald H. Whitfield, director, Great Books Discussions, The Great Books Foundation