the public intellectual: academic discourse in the age of popular media

Thursday, December 2, 1999
5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Bartos Theater
MIT Media Lab

20 Ames Street


This forum aims to explore the ways in which academic ideas have been disseminated to the public in recent years and how (or whether) this has changed the professional priorities and research of scholars. It was designed to continue the discussion started in the prior forum Beyond the Ivory Tower.


Gerald Early is the Merle Kling Professor Modern Letters and the Director of African and Afro-American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the author of One Nation Under Groove: Motown and American Culture, Daughters: On Family and Fatherhood and The Culture of Bruising: Essays on Prizefighting, Literature and Modern American Culture which won a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Alan Lightman is the John Burchard Professor of Humanities and senior lecturer in physics at MIT. He is the author of two novels, Einstein's Dreams and Good Benito. His third novel, The Diagnosis, will be published next year. His non-fiction titles include Origins: the Lives and Worlds of Modern Cosmologists (with R. Brawer), Ancient Light: Our Changing View of the Universe and the forthcoming new edition of Great Ideas in Physics.

Steven Pinker is Professor of Cognitive Science and Director of the McDonnell-Pew Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at MIT. He is the author of How the Mind Works and The Language Instinct. His research includes both empirical studies of linguistic behavior and theoretical analyses of the nature of language and its relation to mind and brain.


[The draft manuscript of a book-in-progress titled Beyond the Ivory Tower
with contributions from Gerald Early, Alan Lightman and Steven Pinker
is also available online.]

Gerald Early, Partisanship, Race, and the Public Intellectual
[3,470 words, posted january 5, 2000]

Alan Lightman, The Role of the Public Intellectual
[1,856 words, posted january 5, 2000]

Steven Pinker, Some Remarks on Becoming a "Public Intellectual"
[1,590 words, posted january 5, 2000]