Conservatives try to add classics to the curriculum

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Higher education has failed democracy and impoverished the souls of today's students," declared Allan Bloom in "The Closing of the American Mind," a book that chastised a generation of academics and students with its biting, furious analysis about the decline of American liberal education. Twenty years ago, at the time of the book's publication, things looked bleak for those who shared Bloom's qualms about the effects of relativism on the academy.

Recently, Bloom's heirs have been hammering on the closed door, trying to reopen the American mind a bit. Their latest door-opening move has been an effort to create scholarly centers on campuses around the country: These centers would be devoted to the great books of Western civilization and the study of the American Founding, and they would be conducted in a rigorous, pre-1960s classroom style.

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