In the Basement of the Ivory Tower by Professor X

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Synopsis

The controversial book that crystallized the current debate over the value and purpose of a college education

When Professor X's article that inspired this book was published in the Atlantic Monthly, a firestorm of controversy began as teachers across the country weighed in, some thanking him for his honesty and others pillorying him for his warts-and-all portrayal of the downside of universal college enrollment. The article was chosen by David Brooks for a Sidney Award, given to the best magazine articles every year, and kicked off an anticollege backlash.

Professor X is an adjunct professor of English literature and composition, a member of the poorly paid underclass who are now teaching the vast majority of our college courses. This is the story of what he learned on the front lines of America's academic crisis.


 

About Professor X

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PROFESSOR X has been teaching English composition and literature for a decade at two small colleges somewhere in America. His essay in The Atlantic, chosen by David Brooks for a Stanley Award and much trafficked and debated on the Web, inspired this book.
 
Published March 31, 2011 by Penguin Books. 287 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for In the Basement of the Ivory Tower

Kirkus Reviews

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Expanding on his controversial Atlantic Monthly essay, “Professor X” assails the ill-considered optimism that encourages unprepared students to assume crippling debt to get college degrees they don’t really need.

Apr 04 2011 | Read Full Review of In the Basement of the Ivory ...

The New York Times

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The author, a poorly paid adjunct professor, a man who teaches nighttime literature classes in both a small private college and in a community college, wrote under the pseudonym Professor X.

Apr 05 2011 | Read Full Review of In the Basement of the Ivory ...

The New York Times

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Professor X, an adjunct instructor and self-described academic hit man, disputes the idea that college is for everyone.

Apr 29 2011 | Read Full Review of In the Basement of the Ivory ...

Publishers Weekly

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Professor X, who embarks on teaching literature and composition evening classes at two colleges (one private, one community) as a supplement to his full-time job to avoid foreclosure, describes his time in academia in a slow-going memoir.

Dec 06 2010 | Read Full Review of In the Basement of the Ivory ...

The Wall Street Journal

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"To wrestle with a piece of writing takes time," Professor X writes, "a scandalous amount of it."

Mar 30 2011 | Read Full Review of In the Basement of the Ivory ...

New York Journal of Books

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What he discovers about the system causes him to seriously question the notion of college for all.Professor X laments the lack of preparedness of his students and describes an epidemic of failing grades, as he is caught between trying to help students learn how to write and upholding the academic...

Mar 31 2011 | Read Full Review of In the Basement of the Ivory ...

Star Tribune

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Professor X writes well and understands the plight of students. But his arguments are only partly convincing, and his book ends up being part memoir, part polemic.

Apr 01 2011 | Read Full Review of In the Basement of the Ivory ...

Los Angeles Times

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In fall 2008, the Atlantic published an anonymous essay on the awful conditions in the basic writing courses of many colleges.

Apr 17 2011 | Read Full Review of In the Basement of the Ivory ...

Christian Science Monitor

A disillusioned professor questions the contemporary American push to get all kids into college.

Mar 24 2011 | Read Full Review of In the Basement of the Ivory ...

Washington Independent Review of Books

He does, though, concede a personal benefit from robust college enrollments, even of unprepared students: Encouraging all Americans to attend college means full employment for him.

| Read Full Review of In the Basement of the Ivory ...

National Review Online

But for the great majority of students, it’s hard to imagine anything more counterproductive than requiring them to suffer through books they don’t like, and then compounding the offense by making them rehash the books in class and write papers on them.

May 22 2008 | Read Full Review of In the Basement of the Ivory ...

Newcity Lit

And writing about what he knows is both the strength and weakness of “In the Basement of the Ivory Tower.” Based on his reports from teaching as an adjunct instructor in both a pseudonymous small college and a junior college somewhere in middle America, he makes a convincing case that higher edu...

May 25 2011 | Read Full Review of In the Basement of the Ivory ...

California Literary Review

[Full (enough) disclosure: I taught my first Freshman Composition course as a TA at the University of Michigan in 1952, and retired as a Full Professor from UCLA in 1994, after holding ladder-rank positions at NYU, Hunter College, and Hamilton College, 51 years in classrooms and lecture halls.] R...

Apr 04 2011 | Read Full Review of In the Basement of the Ivory ...

Englewood Review of Books

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May 19 2011 | Read Full Review of In the Basement of the Ivory ...

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