Tony Grafton, in the introduction to his Worlds Made by Words: Scholarship and Community in the Modern West:
Thirty years and more spent living within the modern university—as well as the larger media and publishing worlds outside it—have sometimes left me shaken, even despairing. Times have been, and are, dark. But even in dark times, the social worlds of scholarship provide room for human warmth and the desire and pursuit of the truth and promote deep scholarship and intelligent writing. And these abide.
Even after only four years in Princeton—but especially now, just under two weeks before my thesis is due—this is the heart-gladdening ideal in which I try to keep faith. I have been fortunate beyond all measure to have learnt it from those who know how to express it so beautifully, warmly, and comfortingly, and who are there for the few undergraduates who really need to hear words like these.
Relatedly, Tenured Radical had a lovely post today about the lessons of her college years, and I mean to take it as my model once I turn in my thesis, my own college years wind to a close, and I’m called to reflect on the use to which I’ve put this sojourn in the wilds of suburban New Jersey. But I can say now that most of all what I’ve learned here is the pressing importance of building intellectual communities that, if not quite ever spreading sweetness and light to civilization far and wide, at least help people like me, who have always struggled to be in the present as easily as we are in the past, to achieve the kind of human connection we need to become better, to love more, and to be more human and more whole.