Academic Diary

Or Why Higher Education Still Matters

Les Back


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Les Back has chronicled three decades of his academic career, turning his sharp and often satirical eye to the everyday aspects of life on campus and the larger forces that are reshaping it. Presented as a collection of entries from a single academic year, the diary moves from the local to the global, from PowerPoint to the halls of power. With entries like Ivory Towers and The Library Angel, these smart, humorous and sometimes absurd campus tales not only demystify the opaque rituals of scholarship, they offer a personal route into the far-reaching issues of university life. From the impact of commercialisation and fee increases to measurement and auditing research, the diary offers a critical diagnosis of higher education today. At the same time it is a passionate argument for the life of the mind, the importance of collaborative thinking and why scholarship and writing are still vital for making sense of our troubled and divided world.

Les Back's Academic Diary is a profoundly humanistic account of the unexpected and often fleeting day-to-day pleasures of working in a contemporary university Laurie Taylor, Broadcaster
A beautifully-written book, full of reflection and reverie, decency and front-line documentation Sukhdev Sandhu, New York University
All academics should make sure that they have a copy to hand David Beer, University of York
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Les Back

Les Back is Professor of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. He received a PhD in Social Anthropology from Goldsmiths and taught previously at the Department of Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham. His books include The Art of Listening and The Auditory Culture Reader (with Michael Bull) and The Changing Face of Football: Racism, Identity and Multiculture in the English Game (with Tim Crabbe and John Solomos). He writes journalism and has made documentary films and lives in south London.