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Intellectual Heft: A.J. Liebling as an Opponent of Anti-Intellectualism in American Journalism
Unformatted Document Text:  Intellectual Heft: A.J. Liebling as Opponent of Anti-Intellectualism 7. intellectualism arose with the decline of the patrician, educated leaders of the American Revolution, where “The leaders were the intellectuals” (Hofstadter, 1963, p. 145), and the rise of Jacksonian populist democracy. Interestingly (though neither Rigney nor Hofstadter mentions this coincidence), Jackson’s 1828 election victory coincides almost exactly with the advent of the Penny Press and the first large single-purpose newspaper companies (The New York Sun debuted in 1833). The final strain of anti-intellectualism in Rigney’s Hofstadter-derived framework is unreflective instrumentalism, “the devaluation of forms of thought that do not promise relatively immediate practical payoffs” (Rigney, 1991, p. 444). This is an emphasis on the practical, rather than the theoretical, and can be seen both in industry and in the expectation that universities would focus not on theoretical education, but on training students for specific jobs in those industries. Rigney sees this as the dominant form of anti-intellectualism in American life at the time of his 1991 writing. Daniel Rigney’s implicit call for research into anti-intellectualism among the American media and its subset, the American press, has mostly gone unanswered. Only one published work addresses the topic as its primary undertaking, Dane Claussen’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Media: Magazines & Higher Education (2004). This is a valuable volume, particularly for its summary of the scholarly work on anti-intellectualism and for its contextualization of the press within that history. However, it is not as comprehensive as its title might suggest. The key to its original research lies in the subtitle: the book is an examination of the coverage of higher education in American magazines in the 20 th century, and while its findings certainly contribute to the understanding of the press and its anti-intellectual predilections, it is not a particularly broad study. Claussen cites two unpublished dissertations as contributing to the understanding of anti-intellectualism in American media, but one of them is his own dissertation, and the basis for

Authors: Lerner, Kevin.
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Intellectual Heft: A.J. Liebling as Opponent of Anti-Intellectualism 
7. 
intellectualism arose with the decline of the patrician, educated leaders of the American 
Revolution, where “The leaders were the intellectuals” (Hofstadter, 1963, p. 145), and the rise of 
Jacksonian populist democracy. Interestingly (though neither Rigney nor Hofstadter mentions 
this coincidence), Jackson’s 1828 election victory coincides almost exactly with the advent of the 
Penny Press and the first large single-purpose newspaper companies (The New York Sun 
debuted in 1833). The final strain of anti-intellectualism in Rigney’s Hofstadter-derived 
framework is unreflective instrumentalism, “the devaluation of forms of thought that do not 
promise relatively immediate practical payoffs” (Rigney, 1991, p. 444). This is an emphasis on 
the practical, rather than the theoretical, and can be seen both in industry and in the expectation 
that universities would focus not on theoretical education, but on training students for specific 
jobs in those industries. Rigney sees this as the dominant form of anti-intellectualism in 
American life at the time of his 1991 writing. 
 
Daniel Rigney’s implicit call for research into anti-intellectualism among the American 
media and its subset, the American press, has mostly gone unanswered. Only one published work 
addresses the topic as its primary undertaking, Dane Claussen’s Anti-Intellectualism in American 
Media: Magazines & Higher Education (2004). This is a valuable volume, particularly for its 
summary of the scholarly work on anti-intellectualism and for its contextualization of the press 
within that history. However, it is not as comprehensive as its title might suggest. The key to its 
original research lies in the subtitle: the book is an examination of the coverage of higher 
education in American magazines in the 20
th
 century, and while its findings certainly contribute 
to the understanding of the press and its anti-intellectual predilections, it is not a particularly 
broad study. Claussen cites two unpublished dissertations as contributing to the understanding of 
anti-intellectualism in American media, but one of them is his own dissertation, and the basis for 


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