Jonathan Zimmerman’s The Amateur Hour: A History of College Teaching in America (Johns Hopkins UP, 2020) is the first full-length history of college teaching in the United States. It explores a paradox at the heart of American higher education: while the scholarly ideal is measured in research and objective output, the practice of teaching has remained outside the bureaucratic umbrella of college and university life.
Zimmerman’s book demonstrates that the idea that college teaching is in a crisis state is a complaint that is as old as American college teaching itself. The Amateur Hour illuminates American college teaching and frames a fresh case for restoring intimate learning communities, especially for America's least privileged students. Anyone who wants to change college teaching will have to start here.
Lane Davis is a doctoral candidate in the Graduate Program in Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University where he studies American religious history. Find him on Twitter @TheeLaneDavis