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Liberty but not License: Publicity, Academic Freedom, and the Professionalization of the Professoriate, 1890-1929


This historical dissertation explores the public and academic discourse regarding the concept of academic freedom from 1890-1929, with the foundation of the American Association of University Professors in 1915 serving as a general midpoint of the analysis. Throughout this period the public academic freedom discourse was consistently connected to the maintenance and use of publicity on behalf of professors to advance and defend the interests and professional status of the professoriate as well as to inflict symbolic damage on the institutions and individuals who were deemed to be barriers to professorial status. Beginning in the earlier third of this time period, 1890-1910, professors in the sciences, as well as senior scholars and administrators from many disciplines, emphasized an academic freedom that was constrained and operated at a collective department or university-level whereas professors in the social sciences and humanities more commonly advanced academic freedom with no limitations and which operated on an individual level. Connected to these competing notions, the academic freedom discourse had a dual-professionalizing role from 1890-1929. It was a means through which professors attempted to legitimate themselves--individually and collectively--in the public eye as well as an important part of the academic professions'

internal struggle to define and redefine itself amidst a changing social and academic landscape.

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