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A Life in School


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Table of Contents

* The Dream of Authority * P.S. 98 * Foyer * Other People * Teachers * Talking in Class * Higher Education * Making It * Ash Wednesday * The Day I Walked Out of Class * Postcards from the Edge * Reverie * Karate Lesson * Lets Get Lost * The Way We Live Now * Coffee * Time Out * The Cloister and the Heart

About the Author

Jane Tompkins is a professor of English at Duke University. She is the author of Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, and more recently, West of Everything: The Inner Life of Westerns. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


In this memoir by Tompkins, a professor of English at Duke University, there is no mind-numbing explication of favorite educational theories or classroom practices. Instead, the reader is taken inside the author's emotional education, which had its early foundation in a compelling desire to please, especially through success in school. This shaping and rewarding of intellect, which also instilled fear, is shown to have affected Tompkins's approach to her life‘the grind of graduate study, the politics of becoming a professor, even withdrawal from two marriages. Through a subsequent union, a blend of professional and emotional excitement and contentment, the missing ingredients of her personality appear to have materialized. Tompkins travels painfully twisting paths by which a scholar and literary critic (West of Everything: The Inner Life of Westerns) came to know herself outside the academic cloister with grace and humor as she challenges universities to conceive "education less as training for a career than as the introduction to a life." (Nov.)

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