reform in American universities willnnot begin until the universities recapturenwhat Cardinal Newman calledn”the idea of the university,” the conceptnthat universities are institutionsnwherein students of superior intellectnand with “a special talent for articulatenessnand the pursuit of ideas in books”nmaster certain intellectual skills, readnspecified books {e.g., the ancient andnmodern classics), and take specifiedncourses in the arts and sciences. Recapturingnthe idea of the university, saysnBarzun, means reaffirming the idea ofnthe university as an intellectual community,na community based on commonlynheld values^a community ofnindividuals and special groups, of peoplenwidely diverse in background andndisposition, who are nevertheless unitednby a common commitment to thenpursuit of truth through the exercise ofnreason. It means emphasizing not ourndifferences, not our “diversity,” butnour “commonality.” (The word “university”nderives from the Latin universum,nand signifies the joining ofnmany parts as one.) Because reason isnits essence, because it cannot survivenunless ruled by reason, the university,nthough it may be the most tolerant ofninstitutions, cannot tolerate a refusal ofnits members to abide by reason, and then”anh-intellectual intellectuals,” insofarnas they refuse to acknowledge andnabide by reason, deny its existence.nIn answer to the question, “What isnto be done?” Barzun suggests that thenuniversities might try applying commonnsense. Refuse to pay the deconstructionistnEnglish professors whatnyou have promised them in their contractsnand you will see how quicklynthey discover that words really do havenmeaning. Better still, administratorsnmight decide that, if deconstructiori isntrue, then “scholarly criticism is nonlonger possible” and their departmentsnof English should be shut down.nBut American universities are notnlikely to do or say such things largelynbecause university administrators,nthose directly responsible for hiring thendeconstructionists and other nihilists,nhave neither the wit nor the will to donor say them. It is the administrators,nmore than any other group in thenuniversity, who, through “shufflingnand cowardice,” incompetence andnsheer stupidity, have been responsiblenfor turning over the university to itsn38/CHRONICLESn”loudest claimants” — that is, to then”anti-intellectual intellectuals.”n”The zest with which the Americannuniversity is destroying itself,” Barzunnwrites, “is truly a remarkable sight,”nand probably the only hope for savingnit is the “hope that life on campus willnget rapidly worse, so that shame andndespair will awaken recollections of andecent past,” thereby leading “dedicatednspirits” to reestablish the due formsnand civil temper of a “company ofnscholars.”nJames P. Degnan is a professor ofnEnglish at Santa Clara University.nA HumanenHistoriannby Michael M. JordannFrank Lawrence Owsley: Historiannof the Old Southnby Harriet Chappell OwsleynNashville: Vanderbilt UniversitynPress; 223 pp., $24.95nIn this book Harriet Owsley remembersnthe life, friendships, and scholarlyncareer she shared with her husband,nFrank Lawrence Owsley. The subtitlenof her memoir calls attention to hernhusband’s field of study as teacher andnscholar. His three books on the OldnSouth are definitive, and they are still innprint: State Rights in the Confederacyn(1925), King Cotton Diplomacy: ForeignnRelations of the ConfederatenStates of America (1931), and PlainnFolk of the Old South (1949)—allnthree republished posthumously.nOwsley was an Agrarian, one of thosentwelve Southerners who in 1930 tookntheir stand for the Agrarian tradition ofnthe South in opposition to the industrialization,nurbanization, commercialism,nand centralization of America’snemerging Leviathan State. Owsley wasnalso a gifted and influential historynprofessor, serving for 29 years at VanderbiltnUniversity and for six years atnthe University of Alabama, until hisnuntimely death by heart attack inn1956.nThere is much of interest in HarrietnOwsley’s informative and aflFectionatenmemoir of her husband. Many aspectsnnnof his life and career are pertinent tonpresent-day concerns in the academynand in communities across the nation.nConsider the relevance of the followingnpassage from Owsley’s 1921 letternto fellow historian George Petrie concerningnthe shortcomings of academicsnhe encountered while pursuing anPh.D. in history at the University ofnChicago:nTwo things have I concluded innhob-nobbing with the royaltynand nobility of the places ofnhigher learning: (1) the greatestnscholars are a bunch of selfish,nconceited, narrow-mindedndoctrinaires who care nothingnfor the students — the personalnelement is missing. . . . Theynare so indifferent to theirnstudents [that] they do onlynsecond grade teaching; (2) thenbooks they write are ninetynpercent “bosh” simply writtennto help themselves and not fornthe welfare of the students, andnthe greatest part of the booksnare never read except by a fewncritics and publishers and rivalnauthors.nSeventy years later the same criticismsnmay be leveled at big-wig academics innmany of America’s universities. Likenthose Owsley encountered, many aren”jealous and mean and bitter towardnrivals, fighting for their own promotionnand prestige, and forgetting that there isna public or a student body and that it isntheir business to serve them.”nOwsley was devoted to his professionnand to the academic community. Butnwhat is remarkable about him is hisndevotion to his students, both professionallynand personally. Over the yearsnhe directed many theses and approximatelynfifty dissertations. Mrs. Owsleynsupplies testimonies from his studentsnthat indicate their fondness for him as anperson and teacher; they remembernhim for his kindness, hospitality, wit,nsense of humor, illustrative vignettes,nand for his energetic, enthusiastic, andnpassionate pursuit of historical knowledge.nOwsley knew that teaching andnwriting history were humane concernsnthat brought the present-day studentnand reader into contact with the past. Asnhistorian and teacher, he was not detachednfrom his subject and students.nOrdinarily when the Agrarian move-n