Stefan Collini

The ‘Two Cultures’ debate of the 1960s between C.P. Snow and F.R. Leavis is one of the most misunderstood intellectual disputes of the 20th century. Most people think that the debate only revolved around the notion that our society is characterized by a divide between two cultures – the arts or humanities on one hand, and the sciences on the other.

The Two Cultures, Revisited is based on an extensive, filmed conversation between Howard Burton and University of Cambridge intellectual historian Stefan Collini— and author of the book, What Are Universities For?— which provides a careful examination and illuminating insights of what the issues really were in this debate.

This carefully-edited book includes an introduction, Returning to the Source, and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:

  1. Cultural Assumptions – On the benefits of reading
  2. Saving the World – C.P. Snow’s moral agenda
  3. “Literary Osteoporosis” – Scientists vs. “literary intellectuals”
  4. Into the Mainstream – Snow becomes a sage
  5. Enter F.R. Leavis – Questioning authority
  6. Combatting Clichés – The Industrial Revolution and challenging prose
  7. The Fallout – Immediate and longer-term effects
  8. Lessons Learned? – Examining Leavis’ impact
  9. What Are Universities For? – Appreciating unique strengths
  10. Constructive Engagement – Critical inquiry and watching one’s language
  11. The Humanities vs. The Sciences – Ruminations on progress
  12. General Implications – The ongoing relevance of The Two Cultures

Now available on:

This conversation is also available as part of the Ideas Roadshow Collection called Conversations About The History of Ideas.

Read more

We’ve produced a one-hour video of our conversation with Stefan Collini which is available on Vimeo On Demand: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/thetwocultures