The Society for U.S. Intellectual History is pleased to announce the results of the deliberation of this year’s Annual Book Award Committee. The committee, composed of Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, University of Wisconsin; Robert Westbrook, University of Rochester; and Howard Brick, University […]
CFP: S-USIH Panels at the OAH Annual Meeting Providence, Rhode Island April 7-10, 2016 The Society for U.S. Intellectual History (S-USIH) will present up to two solicited panels as an affiliate organization at the April 2016 meeting of Organization of […]
The Society for U.S. Intellectual History announces a new prize, to be given triennially, for the best book in the History of American Philosophy, broadly conceived. Funded by a generous grant from the John Dewey Foundation, this prize will be […]
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A few days ago the New York Times ran a story on the question of revoking honorary degrees. The focus of the story was the Bill Cosby, and questions about revoking his degrees in light of recent sexual abuse allegations. But the piece raises all kinds of interesting issues—to me anyway—about the meaning and significance of honorary degrees. I wouldn’t normally invest too much time thinking about such an arcane and, all things considered, relatively harmless symbolic practice. Except that sometimes those awards confer significance on some rather objectionable folks. And Americans have long valued the moral character of public figures over their intelligence (an ideal rebuked in two prominent essays by John Erskine and Lionel Trilling).
What do we know about the history of conferring honorary degrees? (more…)