College of Liberal Arts

Bestselling Author Thomas Frank, Baffler Editor to Discuss Value of Higher Education

Wednesday Oct 30, 2013 4:30 PM | Peter O’Donnell Jr. Building (POB), AVAYA Auditorium

John Summers and Thomas Frank, editors of The Baffler magazine, will discuss issues confronting higher education at an event hosted by the Department of American Studies.

The conversation between Summers, editor-in-chief of The Baffler, and Frank, founding editor of The Baffler and the Easy Chair columnist at Harper’s, will address the following questions:

·       College is the best thing in the world; college is a complete rip-off. How are these two statements compatible? How do they differ?

·       How can we assess the campus battles of this era, which are more focused on money than the niceties of Western Civilization and Great Books?

·       What are we to make of the fact that a college education, which was essentially free for the World War II generation, serves today to fasten the bonds of inescapable indebtedness to an entire generation of students?

Founded in 1988, The Baffler is a print and online magazine of cultural, political and business criticism. In its battle against market forces, The Baffler critiques business leaders, laughs at popular consumer brands as “souvenirs of the cultural industry,” and debunks free market ideology. Issues contain art and criticism from some of the best writers, artists and poets in the country.

About the speakers: Summers is the author of an essay collection, “Every Fury on Earth,” and editor of three collections of cultural criticism: “The Politics of Truth: Selected Writings of C. Wright Mills,” “Masscult and Midcult,” and “Cotton Tenants.” He received his PhD in intellectual history from the University of Rochester in 2006. From 2000 to 2007 he taught social studies at Harvard University. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Frank is the author of five books, including “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” and “Pity the Billionaire,” both national bestsellers. He has been a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and a guest columnist for the New York Times. In 2004 he was awarded a Lannan Literary Fellowship for Nonfiction. He received his PhD in history from the University of Chicago and now lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

The event is free and open to the public. No RSVP is required. Summers and Frank are available for media interviews.

For more information, contact: Jessica Sinn, public affairs specialist, College of Liberal Arts, 512-471-2404 or; Elizabeth Engelhardt, Department of American Studies, 512-232-2707,


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