Barzun, Jacques

Barzun, Jacques

(zhäk bär`zən), 1907–2012, American writer, educator, and historian, b. Créteil, France, grad. Columbia (B.A., 1927; Ph.D., 1932). Barzun moved to the United States in 1919. A student of law and history and one of the founders of the discipline of cultural history, he began teaching history at Columbia in 1928 and spent the remainder of his long and distinguished academic career there. Appointed professor in 1945, he became dean of the graduate faculties in 1955, and was (1958–67) dean of faculties and provost. He became professor emeritus in 1975. For nine decades Barzun wrote and edited critical and historical studies, essays, and reviews on a wide variety of subjects. He particularly espoused the ideals of liberty and individualism that emanated from 19th-cent. liberalism and the romantic movement. His dozens of books include Race: A Study in Modern Superstition (1937. rev. ed. 1965), Romanticism and the Modern Ego (1943, 2d rev. ed. retitled Classic, Romantic, and Modern, 1961), The Teacher in America (1945), Berlioz and the Romantic Century (2 vol., 1950), Darwin, Marx, Wagner (rev. 2d ed., 1958), The House of Intellect (1959), Science: The Glorious Entertainment (1964), The American University (1968), Berlioz and the Romantic Century (3d ed. 1969), The Use and Abuse of Art (1974), and Begin Here: The Forgotten Conditions of Teaching and Learning (1991). His sweeping, critically acclaimed historical survey, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present (2000), which asserted that Western civilization had begun a time of decline, was a surprise best seller.

Bibliography

See M. Murray, ed., A Jacques Barzun Reader (2002); biography by M. Murray (2011).

Barzun, Jacques

(1907–  ) educator, cultural critic, writer; born in Créteil, France. Arriving in the U.S.A. in 1920, he did his undergraduate and graduate work at Columbia University (Ph.D. 1932). He joined the faculty of Columbia in 1927 and remained there as a professor of history and dean, taking emeritus status in 1967. A man of wide-ranging interests, his major professional areas were 19th-century European cultural history, music, and the history of ideas. His many published works, most aimed at a broader public than his professional colleagues, include Teacher in America (1945), Berlioz and the Romantic Century (1950), Music in American Life (1956), A Catalogue of Crime (1971), and Clio and the Doctors (1974). He served as a consultant or adviser on various publishing projects and was a firm, if sometimes cantankerous, upholder of traditional standards of language usage and educational approaches; he never hesitated to write a letter to the editor, an article, or a book attacking what he regarded as deplorable intellectual trends—not only within his own discipline of history but also in science, the arts, and the publishing world.