University of Cambridge, Snow's characterisation of my own University is
naturally interesting to me.
I should say that within Cambridge, there appears to be little interest in
revisiting the controversy, and I've seen no mention of the anniversary
locally despite this being the birthplace of the term. There is still
substantial pain around Leavis's legacy in our English faculty, and it is
arguably Leavis's intemperate response to Snow's public talk that made the
Two Cultures such big news.
As I understand it, the greatest point of contention was the disdain shown
by Leavis for Snow's popular novels. Leavis believed that Snow had
overestimated his own abilities as an artist, and that the rest of his
argument foundered on this point.
Since then, the popular interpretation of the debate has been that Snow was
arguing for public life in England to take better account of scientific
knowledge. However, it was really the claim of a scientist to artistic
authority that seems to have been problematic, not the other way around.
Reader in Interdisciplinary Design, University of Cambridge
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