Campus Recall by James A. Altena

Book Review

Campus Recall

The 'Making of Men': The Idea and Reality of Newman's University in Oxford and Dublin
by Paul Shrimpton

Gracewing, 2014
(631 pages, $36.00, paperback)

reviewed by James A. Altena

In standard biographies of John Henry Newman, the four years from 1854 to 1858 he spent as first rector of the newly founded Catholic University of Ireland (CUI) in Dublin are generally glossed over and treated as a failed attempt to put into practice the ideals he articulated in his famous and influential 1852 lecture series, The Idea of a University: Defined and Illustrated. Paul Shrimpton's in-depth treatment of that period in Newman's life, a major addition to extant Newman scholarship that makes extensive use of unpublished archival source materials, aims to alter that perception and give Newman his due as a practical man of action as well as a theorist.

After an initial sketch of Newman's life up to 1850 that places special emphasis upon his experiences first as a student with tutors and then as a tutor to students, Shrimpton considers in turn the foundation of CUI, Newman's vision for the university, the organization and daily life of the fledgling institution, the mounting problems of maintaining CUI, and its parlous existence after Newman's departure until its final absorption in 1909 into University College Dublin (which became the far more successful National University of Ireland). This is followed by assessments of reasons for CUI's general failure and of Newman's educational legacy. Of these, the discussions of Newman's formative influences, his vision of higher education, and his legacy in this area form a theoretical skeleton to which the other facets add factual flesh.

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James A. Altena is the associate editor of Fanfare magazine, a comprehensive bimonthly periodical for reviews of classical music recordings. He is a member of All Saints Episcopal Church in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in church history at Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, Pennsylvania.

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