[Commencement address at Florida Southern College]

Saturday, February 06, 1954

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Seldes discusses the commencement address he gave at -- on arts and communications. Quotes a faculty address given by William James in 1907 wherein he asks "what is the purpose of a college education?" "A college education should enable us to know a good man when we see one." Magazines are a competitor to education. The machinery of the communications arts is more powerful than the magazine was in 1907. We will have two kinds of education in the US: education through disciplines, and education through the entertainment arts. Snobbery, inverted snobbery. People who graduate from college should be warned that they will be suspected of "intellectualism." The Dreyfus Case. The people who forged evidence against Dreyfus are the actual traitors. No matter what the students do, they won't be able to escape the taint of being intellectuals.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 71503
Municipal archives id: LT3089

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes


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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.


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